A clear trend has developed out at Dove Valley this offense. Due to position vacancies from departing free agents, the Broncos have been forced to bolster their offensive and defensive lines with bargain players from around the league to pair with the youth already returning.

Thursday the team agreed to terms with Antonio Smith, formerly of the Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals. Similar to many of the signings this offseason, Smith has a connection with Gary Kubiak and his coaching staff.

After the Raiders released Smith Tuesday, the Broncos agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract according to spotrac.com. Last season the Raiders signed him to a two-year, $9 million deal.

The 6’3”, 290 pound defensive end is entering his 12th season in the NFL and is coming off of a season in which he played well as a pass rusher while starting in all 16 of the Raiders games. Smith, in his only season with the Raiders, collected three sacks and seven tackles for a loss. The Raiders decided that his services were not needed as they attempt to rebuild with youth on the roster and through the draft in 2015.

During the 2014 season Smith’s play was predictable. While he dominated in pass rush, he once again displayed his weakness in stuffing the run. His Pro Football Focus grades reflected that fact. He received an 18.3 grade as a pass rusher and a -20 grade against the run.

Prior to his time with the Raiders Smith played five very successful season in Houston under Gary Kubiak and briefly with Wade Phillips. He made his only Pro Bowl in 2011 and maintained a reputation for being an elite pass rusher on the edge.

Many of the Broncos free agent signings have had direct links to the new staff in Denver. Smith will reunite will renowned defensive line coach Bill Kollar and should help in competing and teaching the youth along the defensive line of the Broncos.

According to his career statistics on NFL.com, Smith has 228 tackles and 44.5 sacks in 157 regular season games (133 starts) since he was drafted in 2004 out of Oklahoma State University.

Email Sam at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @SamCowhick.

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