The Packers ended up winning the quickly developing recruiting battle for Jaylon Smith, but they fended off multiple NFC suitors to do so. Both Carolina and Washington were in the mix for the longtime starter last week, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes.
With the Cowboys still on the hook for Smith’s $7.2M base salary this season, the Packers landed the sixth-year defender for the league minimum. This amounted to a recruiting competition instead of a bidding war, but Schefter adds Smith was interested in joining both the Panthers and Washington.
Smith’s relationship with Packers HC Matt LaFleur mattered here. Despite LaFleur coaching Notre Dame’s quarterbacks for just one season (2014, when Smith was a sophomore), Schefter notes he and Smith have kept in touch throughout Smith’s career, and the relationship moved the needle. Smith did not suit up for Green Bay’s Week 5 game in Cincinnati, marking his first absence since Week 17 of his injury-redshirt rookie season, but will obviously be on track to contribute soon.
The Panthers have been busy on the trade front already, acquiring corners Stephon Gilmore and C.J. Henderson. They are looking for offensive linemen as well. Carolina moved Jermaine Carter into a three-down role alongside Shaq Thompson at this season’s outset. Washington used a first-round pick on Jamin Davis this year. He has played a part-time role thus far, with Cole Holcomb serving as a three-down ‘backer for the struggling WFT defense. The Cowboys had used Smith as a three-down player for years, but they reduced his snaps this season after making key offseason additions at the position.