Raiders Get a Blocking Tight End to Replace Smith

Ex-Rams and 49ers tight end Derek Carrier will take Lee Smith's place on the Raiders roster to help the running game in 2018

In many ways, Derek Carrier is much like Lee Smith.

Both tight ends are known more for their blocking prowess than their abilities as receivers. Each is known as a solid pro. Carrier is 6-foot-3 and 238 pounds. Smith is the bigger man at 6-foot-6, 269 pounds.

But one thing Carrier has over Smith is the fact he’s 27 and Smith is 30.

So, on Wednesday, the Raiders agreed to a three-year deal with Carrier — who last season played for the Los Angeles Rams — to join the team and fill the role of Smith, who will depart as a free agent.

Jared Cook, a fine receiver, will be the team's No. 1 tight end in 2018, and Oakland also has Clive Walford. Carrier is expected to be a prime piece of the running attack, as Smith was.

As Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote of Carrier's deal, "It wasn't the sort of move that will break the bank. It was the type, the Raiders believe, that can help build a roster."

In his one season with the Rams, Carrier caught just eight passes in 2017 for 71 yards. He played with Washington in 2015-2016, the 49ers in 2013-2014 and Philadelphia in 2012. His biggest season came in 2015 with Washington, when he caught 17 balls for 141 yards and a touchdown.

Also, as Gehlken noted, Carrier is a fine special teams player, who was on the field for 242 special teams plays in 2017 and 185 snaps on offense.

Recently, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden noted the team needed to bring in a strong blocker at tight end to help the running game, particularly with Beast Mode, running back Marshawn Lynch.

"You need a blocking tight end if you're going to slam the ball with a Beast," said Gruden, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Carrier will fill that role.

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