Texans have interest in Antonio Smith for ninja assassin reunion

HOUSTON -- When he departed Houston, Antonio Smith said he'd be leaving the ninja assassin persona he liked to play.

Well, there's a chance it could be back.

The Oakland Raiders have released Smith after the first year of the two-year contract he signed a little more than a year ago. In need of a third-down pass-rusher, the Texans have interest in him.

That was the role they anticipated for Smith last offseason, but at the time it wasn't one that interested him. He became a free agent and chose Oakland, where he expected to have a more prominent role. They signed him to a two-year deal worth $9 million.

Smith, 33, has an affinity for Houston, having spent five seasons with the Texans, who signed him to a $35 million deal in 2009.

He wouldn't be returning to the role he enjoyed for all of those five years, during which he was a starting defensive end, opposite J.J. Watt. But a year later he might be more amenable to that sub-package role in which Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel would like to use him.