A bit of shocking news on the Green Bay Packers front today. The Packers have released inside linebacker D.J. Smith after two seasons with the team.
D.J. Smith was drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Appalachian State University. At just 5’11″ 239 pounds, Smith was highly overlooked in the draft, which allowed the Packers to get great value in him late in the draft.
In 2011 Smith appeared in all 16 games and even started three times. He totaled 32 tackles and picked off Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on Thanksgiving day.
In 2012 Smith tore his ACL in the sixth game of the season against the Houston Texans. He started all six games he played in, in 2012 — he totaled 29 tackles and deflected 4 passes.
Many considered Smith the replacement for inside linebacker A.J. Hawk, who has struggled the last few seasons for the Packers.
However, in 2012 Hawk played very well for the majority of the year, especially after Smith went down. The Packers obviously trust Hawk enough to release Smith.
Smith’s agent said that the Packers told them they needed to “create some space for things that are coming.” He also stated that the Packers may be interested in brining Smith back at a later date.
A possible destination for Smith would be Packers’ in-division rival the Minnesota Vikings, much to chagrin of Packer fans. The Vikings are in desperate need of linebacker help and they obviously know Smith pretty well.
The Packers also released running back Brandon Saine.
With the releasing of both Saine and Smith the Packers save about $1 million in cap space for 2013.