Will Smith moving to linebacker in Saints' 3-4 defense


The old New Orleans Saints defense just wasn't working. That's why we can't criticize "Mr. Positive" Sean Payton's decision to transform his unit to a 3-4 group and hire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

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In the meantime, however, some of the old pieces on the Saints' defense might not fit very well.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis says that longtime defensive end Will Smith will open up organized team activities playing outside linebacker. Junior Galette and Martez Wilson also are changing to linebackers, but Smith's transition figures to be the toughest. He's a classic 4-3 defensive end at 282 pounds; after nine seasons, his movement skills are not what they once were.

Smith took a massive pay cut from $9 million down to $3 million to remain with the Saints during the offseason. He might not even be a lock to make the team if he doesn't look natural in offseason practices.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.