ALAMEDA — The Oakland Raiders added another top free agent to their offseason haul on Thursday, agreeing to a four-year, $40 million deal with former Kansas City cornerback Sean Smith.
Smith’s agent, David Canter, said Smith had agreed to join the big-spending Raiders. Oakland previously reached deals with offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele for up to $60 million for five years and pass rusher Bruce Irvin for up to a reported $39 million for four seasons.
But finding a cornerback was the top need in free agency, and Oakland won a heated competition for Smith. Smith has allowed opponents to catch fewer than 60 percent of passes for all seven of his NFL seasons and gives the Raiders the starter they needed alongside David Amerson.
The secondary was a glaring weakness for the Raiders last season as they struggled to find competent cornerbacks. They allowed 258.8 net yards passing per game last year when Amerson was the only consistent player at cornerback after being picked up on waivers from Washington early in the season. Former first-round pick DJ Hayden lost his starting job and former starter TJ Carrie split time between safety and cornerback.
Smith has been one of the league’s better cover cornerbacks since entering the league as a second-round pick out of Utah in 2009. He has started 100 games in seven seasons with Miami and Kansas City and has 10 interceptions and 80 passes defensed.
He also has done a good job limiting catches, allowing completions on just 52.7 percent of passes in his direction last season, according to Pro Football Focus. That was the second best mark of his career.
The Raiders came into free agency with more than $60 million in salary cap room and big holes to fill on the offensive line, pass rusher and secondary.
They have quickly filled several of those with their early deals and now can focus on finding a safety to replace the retired Charles Woodson, another offensive lineman if left tackle Donald Penn leaves, a running back to pair with 1,000-yard back Latavius Murray and an inside linebacker.
After missing the playoffs for 13 straight seasons and winning just 11 games overall from 2012-14, Oakland is showing signs of becoming a contender again in the AFC West. The Raiders won seven games last season behind a young core led by quarterback Derek Carr, pass rusher Khalil Mack and receiver Amari Cooper.
Now they are hoping these moves help them take the next step and close the gap on Kansas City and Super Bowl champion Denver, which has been hit by significant losses in free agency.