Panthers, DE Chris Smith agree to one-year deal

Panthers, DE Chris Smith agree to one-year deal

Life hands us all challenges of varying sizes, and Chris Smith has had plenty of them in the last year.

Thursday’s news was refreshingly positive for Smith. The defensive end signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers, according to an announcement made by the team.

Smith spent most of his 2019 season in Cleveland, where he’d signed a three-year contract ahead of the 2018 season. It’s also where a terrible tragedy occurred when Smith’s girlfriend, Petara Cordero, was struck and killed by a passing vehicle when she exited Smith’s car after it was disabled on the side of a Cleveland interstate.

Smith and Cordero had recently welcomed a baby girl into the world, leaving him to process the pain of losing his significant other as well as being forced to face the reality of life as a single father — all in the first month of the regular season.

Smith returned to the field rather quickly, saying it’s what Cordero would have wanted him to do, honoring her by wearing cleats with “Stay Strong” printed near the toe. He played nine games with the Browns in 2019, recording one tackle and one pass defended before he was cut as the team made a handful of roster changes in the latter portion of the season.

Now, he’s back to work with a team that sees enough in him to make sure it signed him before the beginning of free agency.

Smith had excelled in his first season in Cleveland as a rotational defender and was tracking toward more success before the tragedy struck. Nearly six months later, Smith has another opportunity to resume his career in the aftermath of the unthinkable.

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