NFL

Raiders signed Lee Smith for pancake blocks, not pass-catching

Lee Smith doesn't fit today's tight end mold -- catch first, everything else second.

The Raiders knew that when they offered him $3 million per season. Smith is a blocker first, second, and third. He's more sixth lineman than tight end.

"The fact that he's not a glamour guy, he's not really too concerned with his stats," head coach Jack Del Rio told ESPN's Bill Williamson. "He just wants to help the team in any way that he can is a good thing."

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Lee won't see many Derek Carr throws come his way. The former Buffalo Bills role player has just 20 career catches in four professional seasons, but he's tough as nails in the trenches.

Del Rio's team could use a lot more of that. They were dead last in rushing in the league last season.

Throw in a guy like Smith, though, and suddenly running backs find room. That alone makes Smith worth the big-money deal he received.

"He's a tough guy," Del Rio said. "He's a veteran guy that understands what it takes to be able to run the ball."

(h/t ESPN)