BOISE -- Former Boise State linebacker Tommy Smith signed a rookie free-agent contract with the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, according to his representatives at KLASS Sports.
"I'm ready to get to work," said the elated linebacker over the phone moments after the announcement. “It hit me when I signed the paper work to make it official, that now I can come out here and do something that I love to do."
Throughout the process, Smith's patience was tested. He was passed up in the NFL Draft, but the Browns eventually invited the Georgia-native up to Cleveland for a tryout.
"I was just up there playing football, doing all the things that I learned at Boise," Smith recalled. "(I was) just being that Boise type of player. Being hungry," he added. "They liked me and now I'm back."
But it actually wasn't all that simple.
The Browns flew Smith to Cleveland last week where they originally intended to sign him to a deal. According to his representatives, he was even presented with a contract.
"I was there for two days," Smith explained. "My agent signed his part (of the contract) last weekend, then I was going to sign mine after practice and it didn't happen like that. I honestly don't know what happened."
So the Browns flew Smith back to Atlanta, GA. Despite the move, he remained confident a deal would get done. Eventually.
"I just believed they were going to call me back," Smith said, adding his family, friends and girlfriend were a fantastic support system throughout the process.
On Thursday morning, Smith finally received the news he had been waiting for.
"Honestly I just kept the faith and everything worked out.”
Smith agreed to a three-year, non-guaranteed contract. The agreement calls for him to make $1.4 million over the span of the deal, including approximately $405,000 for the upcoming season if makes the Browns 53-man roster.
With that in mind, the battle is just beginning for Smith. Between now and the end of fall camp, Cleveland must cut 37 players in order to meet league standards.
"It's just how it goes,” Smith said. “Every day you can be gone so you just have to give it your all why you’re here."
Smith humbly suggested his versatile is what could help him shine in the end.
"Linebackers in the NFL always play a role on special teams," Smith said with excitement in his voice. "I think that's really good because, as you know, in my first two seasons (at Boise State) that's all I did was play special teams being in the backup role at linebacker."
"I just look forward to having to do some dirty work - which I've always done - and I'm just ready to play."
"I come from a good school in Boise where the coaches - coach (Bob) Gregory, coach (Chris) Petersen, and all the coaches around - taught me how to become a better football player," Smith added. "So I'm just going to take that, be the best that I can be and put my best foot forward."