It was a parting of ways that likely unforeseen when he was signed as a free agent prior to the 2011 season. On Friday the Bills released WR/KR Brad Smith from injured reserve in an injury settlement making him a free agent. The 29-year old multi-faceted player is now free to sign with any other NFL club and play this season. The only team by rule that he cannot play for is Buffalo.
Smith was signed as a free agent by the Bills right after the NFL lockout ended a week prior to the opening of training camp. He was initially viewed as a Wildcat quarterback option for the Bills in his first season with Buffalo. He also split time as a fill-in wide receiver and kick returner.
In 2011 the previous coaching staff used him as an option QB on third-and-short situations and as a kick returner. The problem was his role on offense and as a kick returner didn't provide quite the impact that was anticipated. NFL defenses had developed ways to effectively defend the Wildcat and the league's new kickoff rule reduced return opportunities as touchbacks increased considerably when kickoffs were moved up to the 35-yard line.
Last season his role shifted almost exclusively to that of receiver. In two seasons he made 37 receptions for 392 yards and three touchdowns.
Inherited by the current coaching staff, Smith was a player seen solely as a receiver and he was believed to be a player that was on the bubble as training camp came to a close. With the team heavily invested in rookie wideouts Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin it looked as if Smith could be caught in a numbers game at the position.
Ultimately he was placed on injured reserve on Aug. 30th with a rib injury that was suffered in the team's preseason finale. Smith, who had another year left on his contract with Buffalo, can now pursue a new opportunity with any of the 31 other NFL clubs.