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Raiders Acquire Jim Smith, Trade Ted Watts

September 01, 1985|MARK HEISLER | Times Staff Writer

Two pieces of unfinished Raider business were finished Saturday, along with defensive back Ted Watts' Raider career.

That was one of the pieces, trading Watts, a No. 1 draft pick in 1981, to the New York Giants for an undisclosed draft choice.

The other was the announcement of their Jim Smith deal, reportedly completed last week. Smith, a wide receiver who spent the last three seasons in the United States Football League before re-signing with Piitsburgh last week, was acquired in a deal with the Steelers for another undisclosed draft choice.

The choice going to Pittsburgh is reportedly the Raiders' No. 5 next spring.

The choice coming to the Raiders from the Giants is thought to be about the same round, or one higher. In other words, Watts for Smith (involving different teams), pretty much even up.

Smith, 30, is a nine-year pro, including six seasons with the Steelers. He played behind Lynn Swann and John Stallworth at first but began to emerge after Swann's retirement.

Smith's Steeler totals were 110 receptions for an 18.9 average and 24 touchdowns. He caught nine TD passes in 1980 and seven in '81, both team highs.

As a Birmingham Stallion, he caught 227 passes in three seasons for 31 more touchdowns.

"We had a chance to get a veteran whom we feel is a quality receiver, that's one of the reasons (for the trade)," Coach Tom Flores said.

And the other reasons? The Raiders' rookie receivers have struggled lately.

"That's the main reason," Flores said.

"Smith is a combination (of deep receiver and possession type). He caught a lot of balls in Birmingham. He has good size (6-2, 205) and power. He has experience. He's played in big games. He played in two Super Bowls."

Watts was considered a major talent who just never happened as a Raider. He once ran a 9.5 100-yard dash and he started 13 games at the right corner in 1983.

But his career screeched to a halt the day the Raiders acquired Mike Haynes from the Patriots. Haynes and Lester Hayes became one of the great tandems in football. Watts became a sub.

By Friday night's exhibition in Cleveland, he was running No. 6 in a four-cornerback race to make the team, trailing the big two plus James Davis, Sammy Seale and Stefon Adams. Seale and Adams are recently converted wide receivers with one month's experience on the corner. In Cleveland, Watts played only a few plays--as a safety. He intercepted a Bernie Kosar pass late in the 26-7 Raider victory--after Seale batted it in the air.

There was speculation the Raiders were trying to deal him last Tuesday, just before the cut to 50, and when they couldn't, they waived Odis McKinney instead, figuring a few more days would get it done.

It did. The Giants have a hole at the left corner, where Mark Haynes, a Pro Bowler and a Howard Slusher client, is holding out. Giant Coach Bill Parcells had said that after a certain point, he'd deal to fill Haynes' spot. The Giants have also had good success with Raider defensive backs. They now start Kenny Hill, acquired two years ago off the Raider bench.

Flores: "We had to do some things and not look back."

They're done, for the moment.

Raider Notes

The Ted Watts deal means that Sammy Seale or Stefon Adams is a good bet to make the team. Coach Tom Flores talked Saturday of "the development of Sammy Seale," so that would be a good way to bet . . . Jim Smith will be allowed two weeks to work out with the Raiders before he counts against their roster. They'll likely activate him for the third game of the season, against the 49ers.

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