In a surprise move, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released defensive end Jacquies Smith, per Jenna Laine of ESPN. Smith played his first game in over a year on Sunday, but didn’t make much of an impact.
The veteran defensive end tore his ACL at the start of the 2016 season, and didn’t recover from that injury until the start of this season. It then took him two games to get on the field despite the team’s lack of quality edge rushers. Apparently Smith’s recovery wasn’t strong enough for the Bucs to hang on to him beyond today.
Jacquies Smith originally joined the Bucs as an undrafted free agent, and turned into a promising young pass-rusher with 13.5 sacks in 2014 and 2015.
It’s not clear who the team will sign to replace Smith. Whoever they add, Noah Spence will be the team’s primary and only truly disruptive edge rusher right now. And Spence himself is struggling with a shoulder injury. The Bucs only have one sack on the year, though they’ve done a decent job of getting pressure on the quarterback.
The Bucs play the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football tonight, so we’ll see how their pass rush holds up against one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.