Saints 2020 Year-in-Review: Tre'Quan Smith

This Year-in-Review spotlight is coming off the most productive year of his career for New Orleans.
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The New Orleans Saints spent a 3rd round pick in the 2028 draft, the 91st overall selection, on wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith out of Central Florida. They were looking for a playmaker at wideout to go alongside All-Pro WR Michael Thomas to put even more pressure on opposing pass defenses and give quarterback Drew Brees another weapon.

Smith had some pleasant moments as a rookie. He flashed brilliant potential with 3 catches for 111 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Washington Redskins and 10 catches for 157 yards and a score against the Philadelphia Eagles. Outside of those games he had just 15 catches for 159 yards in his other twelve games.

Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith

Nov 18, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (10) breaks away from Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones (22) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Smith started the 2019 season with five catches for 75 yards and a touchdown in the first two games. An ankle injury sidelined him for two weeks after that and slowed him in his return, but Smith still failed to get consistent separation from defensive backs once healthy. He had just 18 receptions for 234 yards in 2019, but scored five touchdowns.

Still searching for another bona fide number two threat at wideout because of Smith's inability to secure the spot, New Orleans brought in veteran Pro Bowl receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

The addition of Sanders was thought to take some pressure off Smith, and many thought that a bigger season was in store for the third year wideout. He is the subject of this Year-in-Review spotlight.

TRE'QUAN SMITH

Nov 1, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; New Orleans wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (10) makes a catch against Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY 

Nov 1, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; New Orleans wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (10) makes a catch against Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY 

In the 2020 season opening win over Tampa Bay Smith caught his only target for four yards. Michael Thomas suffered an ankle injury in the game that would force him to miss the next six weeks and limit his effectiveness all season. Without the reliable Thomas, more production was expected from Smith and Sanders at the receiving position.

Smith caught 5 passes for 86 yards against the Raiders in a Week 2 loss. He scored his first touchdown of the year two weeks later in a win at Detroit, recording 4 receptions for 54 yards and two scores. After a quiet outing against the Chargers at home, he caught 9 of 11 targets for 87 yards the next two weeks against Carolina and Chicago and had a key touchdown reception in a Week 9 win at Tampa Bay.

With Thomas back in the lineup, Smith again became a secondary option in the passing attack. He was targeted just four times, catching 2 balls for 30 yards, during a four-game stretch against the Buccaneers, 49ers, Falcons, and Broncos. Smith caught 3 passes for 43 yards and a crucial score in a Week 13 rematch at Atlanta, then followed that with 3 receptions for 60 yards in a road loss to the Eagles.

Oct 4, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; New Orleans wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (10) makes a jumping touchdown catch against Lions safety Will Harris (25) at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY 

Oct 4, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; New Orleans wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (10) makes a jumping touchdown catch against Lions safety Will Harris (25) at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY 

Smith sustained an ankle injury during the Week 15 loss to the Chiefs, causing the team to place him on injured reserve. He’d miss the last two regular seasons contests and the Wild Card playoff win over Chicago, but would return for the Divisional Round against the Buccaneers. Smith caught 3 passes for 85 yards and the team's only two touchdowns in the loss to Tampa Bay. The first score came on a gadget play where Smith caught a 56-Yd strike from QB Jameis Winston. It was the longest pass play of the season for New Orleans.

Tre'Quan Smith had 34 receptions for 448 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2020. It was the most productive season of his three-year career. He continues to struggle to get separation on his own and the team often needs to rely on schemes to get him open, but he adds valuable experience to the receiving corps.

Detroit cornerback Jeff Okudah defends New Orleans receiver Tre'Quan Smith Sunday, October 4, 2020 at Ford Field © Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Detroit cornerback Jeff Okudah defends New Orleans receiver Tre'Quan Smith Sunday, October 4, 2020 at Ford Field © Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Smith is entering the last year of his contract and will count for only $1.2 million against the salary cap next year. He may have never developed into a top wideout, but Smith is a terrific blocker and is especially valuable in the red zone and as a complementary offensive piece.