Daryl Smith will be playing for the Jaguars for a long time. The question is, at what position?
Smith has agreed to a long-term contract with the team, following the best year of his three-year career. Smith led the Jaguars in 2006 with a career-high 170 tackles, along with three sacks and one interception. They are achievements that are largely the result of Smith's move to middle linebacker following Mike Peterson's season-ending injury in week five.
"I'm very excited about it," Smith said of his new contract. "I'll be here for a long, long time. This is my home. I love Jacksonville and I'm not too far from my family in Georgia."
Peterson is expected to make a full recovery from his torn pectoral muscle injury, but there's speculation Smith might remain at middle linebacker and Peterson would return to weakside linebacker, a position he previously played while with the Colts. Smith was the Jaguars' starting strongside linebacker but rookie Clint Ingram stepped in for Smith when Smith moved to middle linebacker, and Ingram played well enough to become a fixture at the strongside position.
"It really doesn't matter," Smith said when asked what position he prefers to play. "I played outside the first two years and the middle this year. It's whatever the coaches feel. It's not about who plays where. It's about winning."
Smith recorded double-digit tackles in eight of 10 games after moving to middle linebacker. He was a second-round pick from Georgia Tech in 2004; one of six linebackers selected in the first 39 picks. Only the Jets' Jonathan Vilma, 12th selection overall, ranks ahead of Smith in total tackles and games started.
"I had a pretty good year. I could've done some things better. We didn't make the playoffs. That was one of the goals. All we can do now is look forward to next year," Smith said. "I see us getting better every year."