Several former Utes on the move, among the headlines during the first 2 days of NFL free agency
Gerry Broome, AP
Former Ute Steve Smith has played his final snap with the Carolina Panthers, according to his agent.
"[Steve] is not going to play for the Panthers next year, I know that," Smith's agent, Derrick Fox, told the Associated Press. "I just don't know when that transaction is going to take place."
Smith signed a contract extension in 2012. He has played for the Panthers for 13 seasons and carries a $7 million salary-cap figure. While his numbers declined a bit last season, Smith has had seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons for Carolina and has scored 75 career touchdowns, including six as a returner and two rushing.
"Where we are disappointed is the fact he signed an extension to stay loyal to the club and complete his career as a Panther," Fox added. "That is why we did the long-term team deal. Now we are at a crossroads where the Panthers don't want him anymore."
Smith turned to social media to share his thoughts and appreciation Wednesday afternoon.
God has a plan... sometimes it just hurts find out what it is pic.twitter.com/r8mCVcFONR— Steve Smith (@89SteveSmith) March 12, 2014
I will always be a Carolina panther No contract can ever change that CLT is my home and will always be my home... I love you #panthernation— Steve Smith (@89SteveSmith) March 12, 2014
One source told the Baltimore Sun that the Ravens could be interested in adding the veteran wideout.
"Although Smith turns 35 in May, he fits the Ravens' mold as an aggressive, tough wide receiver who could fill the void that the team has had since Anquan Boldin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers before last season," the Sun's Aaron Wilson wrote. "The Ravens could have Smith work in tandem with Torrey Smith, their top deep threat."
Overall, the first day of NFL free agency brought plenty of movement Tuesday, including for several former University of Utah players who switched teams for the first time in their careers.
A league source told the Denver Post that former Utah offensive lineman Zane Beadles will sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being released by the Denver Broncos earlier in the day. The deal is reported to be five years and $30 million with $13 million guaranteed.
"One reason the Broncos did not bring Beadles back is because he figured to command at least a $5 million-per-year contract, and the team already has paid top-of-the-market salaries to left tackle Ryan Clady and right guard Louis Vasquez," the Post's Mike Klis wrote.
Beadles has played for the Broncos throughout his four-year NFL career and helped the team reach the Super Bowl last season where they lost to the Seattle Seahawks. After being selected by Denver in the second round of the 2010 draft, he started 67 games, including playoffs. He's started every game the past three seasons and made the Pro Bowl following the 2012 season.
The Jaguars are looking for offensive line help after rushing for just 78.8 yards per game last season while giving up 50 sacks — both stats were second-worst in the league. Conversely, the Broncos allowed a league-low 20 sacks during the regular season and just one during the playoffs.
Paul Soliai, an unrestricted free agent, is on the move as well. The eighth-year defensive tackle out of Utah reportedly agreed to sign with the Atlanta Falcons, according to numerous sources, including ESPN. This marks the end of his seven-year career with the Miami Dolphins where he had 160 career tackles and 4.5 sacks in 99 games, including 62 starts.
The Sun Sentinel reports Soliai's contract is for five years and $33 million, with $14 millions guaranteed.
Thomas Dimitroff on today's signings: They are solid football players that are going to add to the toughness of our team. #RiseUp— Atlanta_Falcons (@Atlanta_Falcons) March 11, 2014
Also, the Houston Texans reported they have released former Ute cornerback Brice McCain. ESPN indicated that by releasing McCain the Texans will save $850,000 against the salary cap. He was a sixth-round draft pick by Houston in 2009 and has played 72 games over the past five seasons with 10 starts. Last year, McCain put up career-highs with four starts and 32 tackles. He also had seven pass deflections and an interception.
Been real H-town pic.twitter.com/tHQ1EGO06g— Brice McCain (@McCain21) March 11, 2014
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @brandonljudd
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