Akili Smith's last regular-season game came against the Buccaneers in 2002
Akili Smith is headed to the NFL Europe League to revive his football career. He could end up in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training camp after that.
On Friday, the Buccaneers announced that they have signed Smith and added him to their list of players allocated to the NFLEL. The former first-round draft pick played four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals but has not appeared in the league over the last two years.
The 6-3, 220-pound Smith still has the size and physical tools that motivated the Bengals to select him third overall in 1999, the same season Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper and Cade McNown were also taken in the first round. After persistent struggles in Cincinnati, Smith signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2003 but did not make the regular-season roster.
Smith is also highly-motivated to get his career back on track, as evidenced by the fact that he intended to play in Europe before learning of the Bucs' interest. Smith was one of about 40 players not affiliated with an NFL team who were drafted into the NFLEL on Monday. Now that he is a Buccaneer allocate, he could also increase the number of training camp roster exemptions Tampa Bay ultimate receives for their NFL Europe participation.
Smith played in 22 games and started 17 over his four seasons with the Bengals, most of that occurring in his first two campaigns. As a rookie, he started four games and completed 80 of 153 passes for 805 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions. He was the primary starter in 2000, opening 11 games and completing 118 of 267 passes for 1,253 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions.
Overall, Smith has thrown 461 NFL passes and completed 215 of them for 2,212 yards, five touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has also run 70 times for 371 yards and one score.
Coincidentally, the last time Smith played in a regular-season game in the NFL was against the Buccaneers. In the last of his four seasons in Cincinnati, Smith was active for just one game, starting the Sept. 29 game versus Tampa Bay. He completed 12 of 33 passes for 117 yards and one interception against the eventual Super Bowl champions.
A former farmhand in the Pittsburgh Pirates' system, Smith had a breakout season as a senior at Oregon in 1998, setting school records in passing yards (3,763) and total yards (3,947). He also tossed 32 touchdown passes against just eight interceptions.
Smith will play for the Frankfurt Galaxy and vie for the starting job with Houston's B.J. Symons and the New York Jets' Kevin Eakin. The Bucs now have 10 players allocated to the NFL; seven of the other nine found out what teams they would be playing for on Monday, while K Todd France and P Brian Simnjanovski will have to wait a few more weeks to be assigned.