A year after trading for him, the Carolina Panthers have parted ways with veteran wide receiver Torrey Smith, announcing Sunday they have released the 30-year-old pass catcher while claiming two others off waivers at the position.
A two-time Super Bowl champion, Smith came to Carolina in a player-for-player swap with the Philadelphia Eagles in March 2018. He also opened his first Panthers season as one of Cam Newton’s top outside targets. Knee issues sidelined him for five games, however, and forced him to start this summer on the non-football injury list. ESPN previously reported that Smith had taken a $3 million pay cut to remain on the roster, but by adding reserves Brandon Zylstra and Ray-Ray McCloud this weekend, Carolina made it clear it was ready to move on.
Smith was celebrated as a veteran and locker-room leader upon joining the Panthers, much like when he signed with the Eagles in 2017. Limited to 11 games, however, he managed just 17 catches and 190 yards over the course of his age-30 season, the lowest marks of his NFL career. The veteran struggled with drops at times the year prior, with Philadelphia, but came through with a number of big plays in the Eagles’ playoff run to Super Bowl LII. While he also struggled in a two-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers, Smith is perhaps best known for his opening four years with the Baltimore Ravens, eclipsing 1,100 receiving yards in 2013, scoring 11 touchdowns a year later and helping Joe Flacco and Co. win a title in 2012.
Zylstra and McCloud figure to compete for reserve playing time behind D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, Chris Hogan and Jarius Wright on the Panthers’ WR depth chart. The former spent 2018 with the Minnesota Vikings, primarily on special teams, after a two-year run in the Canadian Football League. McCloud was a sixth-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2018, appearing in 10 games.
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