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Jenna Laine, ESPN Staff Writer 73d

Sources: Former starting DE Jacquies Smith cut by Buccaneers

NFL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Buccaneers have waived former starting defensive end Jacquies Smith, sources told ESPN.

Smith and his agency, Synergy Sports International, tweeted about the release on Wednesday.

The Bucs released Smith despite their pass-rushing struggles this season; they are last in the NFL with just one sack. In addition, Smith, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 1 of 2016 and missed the rest of that season, had finally gotten healthy enough to play again.

Smith became a restricted free agent this offseason and took a visit to the San Francisco 49ers before ultimately signing his tender.

He encountered a setback this summer that required an additional procedure. He was activated to the 53-man roster in September but then caught the flu, which kept him from making his 2017 debut in Week 3. He was finally active last week against the New York Giants. 

Smith hadn't played in more than a year and was at the bottom of the depth chart, behind Robert Ayers, William Gholston, Noah Spence and Ryan Russell.

Before the Giants game, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter expressed reservations about playing Smith, based on what he saw during practice.

"Jacquies looked sharp at times," Koetter said. "He had a real nice spin move, but at the same time -- and this is just my opinion -- like we said yesterday, he needs a little more contact work. You can't expect this guy to be ready to go at his former self without having full-speed football. I mean he just hasn't.

"It's been a long road back for Jacquies. When he was at his best, he was a pretty darn good pass-rusher."

Defensive coordinator Mike Smith said this week that he felt Smith "has had a tough go" and "has fought his tail off to get back."

Smith saw action in 27 games for the Bucs in 2014 and 2015, with 18 starts. He recorded 13.5 sacks during that span, second only to Gerald McCoy and the most of any Bucs' edge rusher at that time.

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