In addition to the previously reported release of running back Brandon Saine, the Green Bay Packers made the surprise move of letting go linebacker D.J. Smith as well on Wednesday.
From Brian McIntyre of Yahoo Sports…
According to league’s personnel notice, released #Packers Brandon Saine & D.J. Smith had “Failed Physical” designations
— Brian McIntyre (@brian_mcintyre) April 24, 2013
Smith made six starts in place of Desmond Bishop last season, but his season ended in October when he suffered a knee injury and was placed on injured reserve.
Entering just his third season in the NFL, it was perhaps surprising that the Packers didn’t give Smith more time being that they’re still five months away from the start of the 2013 season.
“I can only tell you what they told us, and that’s they needed to create some space for things they thought was coming,” Smith’s agent Lamont Smith was quoted as saying by Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
What exactly is meant by “create space” is open to interpretation. The Packers are one day from the start of the NFL Draft and considering Bishop is coming off a season-ending hamstring injury, Green Bay may have less depth than appears on paper. It could be that they’re preparing to select an another linebacker at some point over the next three days.
Even if the Packers don’t draft an inside linebacker, they’ll still be filling out their 90-man offseason roster with undrafted free agents the minute round seven is over.
It’s possible that Smith’s knee injury is worse than appears, but in his brief starting stint last season, Smith did a solid yet unspectacular job by making 29 tackles and two sacks over the course of those six games.
The Packers made a commitment to three other inside linebackers this offseason by re-signing Brad Jones and Robert Francois as free agents and restructuring the contract of A.J. Hawk.