NFL Notes: Steve Smith no longer a Panther

NFL Notes: Steve Smith no longer a Panther
March 13, 2014, 3:30 pm
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Steve Smith leaves the Panthers as their all-time leading receiver. (USA Today Images)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Steve Smith era in Carolina is over.

The Panthers released their all-time leading receiver on Thursday after 13 seasons. Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said it "was not an easy decision" in a press release.

"Steve has been one of the NFL's finest receivers for over a decade and has been the face of the franchise for a large part of the team's history," Gettleman said. "As a team, we made a step forward last year; however we are also a team in transition, which is a part of the NFL."

The decision comes one day after Smith's agent, Derrick Fox, told The Associated Press that the 13-year NFL veteran "is not going to play for the Panthers next year, I know that."

Fox said the Panthers never asked Smith, who turns 35 in May, to restructure his current contract. The Panthers were unable to trade Smith, who was set to cost $7 million under this year's salary cap.

The Panthers still owe Smith $3 million this season.

The decision has not been a popular one among Carolina fans. Gettleman addressed that in his press release.

"When I took this position I knew that difficult decisions would have to be made along the way," Gettleman said. "To move on from a storied veteran player is probably the most difficult of all. A decision not to be taken lightly. However, after much thought I feel very strongly it's the right one," (see full story).

Raiders: Saffold fails physical, contract voided
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders were dealt a setback on Wednesday in their plans to rebuild the struggling franchise when offensive lineman Rodger Saffold failed a physical one day after agreeing to a $42.5 million, five-year contract.

The two sides had agreed to the deal shortly after the start of free agency on Tuesday but the contract was never signed after team doctors would not give Saffold a clean bill of health after a physical on Wednesday.

The Raiders did not give a reason why Saffold failed the physical.

Saffold was set to be paid $16 million in 2014 and $27.6 million over the first three years as the Raiders viewed him as a building block in a rebuilding plan after 11 straight years without a playoff berth.

But Saffold had durability problems in his four years with St. Louis, missing 17 games with a variety of injuries. He missed time with a knee injury last season and has also had problems with his neck, shoulder and pectoral muscle in his career (see full story).

Jaguars: Jags sign Hood, former Eagle Clemons
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars are continuing to revamp their defensive line by agreeing to terms with free agents Chris Clemons and Ziggy Hood.

Seattle released Clemons in a cost-cutting move Wednesday. His cross-country trek to Jacksonville reunites him with former Seahawks defensive coordinator and current Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley.

The 32-year-old Clemons is expected to sign a four-year deal following a physical Thursday. The 27-year-old Hood, who spent the last five years in Pittsburgh, also will sign Thursday.

After failing to find success in Oakland and Philadelphia, Clemons thrived in Seattle under Bradley. He was the team's top pass rusher from 2010 to 2012, recording 33 1/2 sacks and getting at least 11 each year.

Jacksonville signed former Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant last week.

Raiders: Justin Tuck signs for two years in Oakland
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders have signed free agent defensive end Justin Tuck to a two-year contract.

General manager Reggie McKenzie announced the deal on Thursday after Tuck spent a day in Alameda visiting the Raiders. ESPN first reported the deal and said it was worth $11 million over two seasons.

Tuck joins the Raiders following nine seasons with the New York Giants during which he helped the team win two Super Bowl titles. Tuck has made two Pro Bowls and has 60.5 career sacks, 20 forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries in 127 career games.

Tuck was rated as the ninth best pass rushing defensive end by Pro Football Focus last season when he had 11 sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 44 hurries.

Packers: Andrew Quarless and Mike Neal re-sign
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Packers have brought back tight end Andrew Quarless and re-signed defensive end-linebacker Mike Neal.

The deals were announced Thursday by general manager Ted Thompson. Terms were not disclosed.

A fifth-round pick in 2010 from Penn State, Quarless rebounded well in 2013 after missing the previous season with a knee injury. He caught 32 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games, making 10 starts. He became the primary tight end after Jermichael Finley was knocked out for the year in October with a neck injury. Finley is also an unrestricted free agent.

Neal announced his return Wednesday on Twitter. He had five sacks and became a key player following injuries to outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry.

Bengals: James Harrison released
CINCINNATI -- The Bengals released linebacker James Harrison on Thursday, leaving the former Defensive Player of the Year looking for his third team in three seasons.

The 35-year-old linebacker helped the Steelers win a pair of Super Bowls and was the league's top defensive player in 2008. He left Pittsburgh when the two sides couldn't agree on a restructured deal.

Harrison went down the Ohio River to AFC North rival Cincinnati, where he got a two-year contract. The Bengals envisioned him using his pass-rushing ability to become a difference-maker on a defense that was already one of the league's best (see full story).

Seahawks: Tavaris Jackson staying put
TRENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks and Tarvaris Jackson have agreed to terms on a contract to keep their backup quarterback on the roster for another season.

The Seahawks confirmed the agreement Thursday. Jackson is a favorite in the Seahawks locker room and a capable backup to Russell Wilson (see full story).