Smith considers possibility of playing for new team in '08

Healthy again and coming off his best performance of the year, Philadelphia Eagles starting tight end L.J. Smith is looking forward to a strong second half of the season.

And looking down the road to the possibility that he will be playing elsewhere in 2008.

"Right now, I'm looking at being on another team," Smith told local reporters Wednesday, referring to the fact his contract expires after this season and that there have not been any substantive discussions in recent months about an extension.

If the fifth-year veteran does make it into the market, he will likely generate solid interest, given his proven value in a West Coast-style offense and the emergence of the tight end position around the league. Smith has never had fewer than 25 receptions in a season and in the past two years averaged 55.5 catches and 646.5 yards.

Some personnel officials in the league feel that Smith could have 65- to 75-catch potential in the right situation.

Because of two surgeries since May to address a groin injury and the fact the condition forced him to miss three games, he won't come close to his typical performance in 2007. But he had four catches for 49 yards and a touchdown in last Sunday's victory over Washington -- the first game this season in which Smith had more than two receptions and 34 yards -- and appears back on the upswing again.

If he is fully recovered, as he has insisted, Smith figures to re-establish himself over the second half of the season as one of the NFL's best receiving tight ends. The former Rutgers standout, a second-round choice in the 2003 draft, has good hands and excellent instincts in being able to locate the soft spots in the opposition secondary.

In 69 games, with 50 starts, Smith has 183 catches for 2,108 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Smith, 27, is in the final season of his rookie contract, with a base salary of $920,000. There were some extension discussions with his agent, Brian Mackler, in the offseason, but that was months ago and there haven't been any talks since then. Barring the extension, Smith will become a free agent, although there is always the chance the Eagles could designate him as a franchise player.

Despite the uncertainty of Smith's future in Philadelphia, he emphasized that he will not allow it to be a distraction over the final seven games.

"I'm playing for the Philadelphia Eagles," Smith said. "Even though I'm not happy with the contract situation ... I'm still going to go out and give 100 percent."

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.