Panthers Falcons Football

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith (11) warms up with the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Atlanta.

Hours after he was released by the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, veteran wide receiver Torrey Smith expressed gratitude to the franchise on social media.

Smith appeared in just 11 games for the Panthers last year (starting six) as a knee injury derailed his season. Still, Carolina exercised the option on his contract in March seemingly setting him up for another season catching passes from star quarterback Cam Newton.

ESPN previously reported Smith took a pay cut to remain on the roster.

But on Sunday, the Colonial Beach native and Stafford High School graduate was let go as the Panthers added receivers Ray-Ray McCloud and Brandon Zylstra.

Smith posted a photograph of himself and other Carolina receivers on Instagram and Twitter Sunday and wrote, “I’m going to miss my guys.”

“Not what I expected, but I understand the business,” Smith wrote. “Thank you for sticking with me through the injury and allowing me to work my way back to full strength. Three months ago I thought my career was done.”

Smith was unavailable for further comment.

The 30-year-old will now look to catch on with another team.

He didn’t have a catch on three targets for the Panthers in the preseason. He’s coming off career lows in receptions (17) and yards (190). He’s yet to return to the form he showed early in his career with the Baltimore Ravens, when he was one of the NFL’s premier deep threats.

Smith hasn’t recorded 40 catches or 700 yards in a season since he left the Ravens for San Francisco via free agency in 2015.

He finished with a career-high 11 touchdown receptions in Baltimore in 2014. He set career-highs in catches (65) and yards (1,128) with the Ravens the previous season.

Smith has 319 career receptions for 5,141 yards and 41 touchdowns. He helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl at the end of the 2012 season and also was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2017 title-winning squad.

Smith had a good rapport in Baltimore with former quarterback Joe Flacco, who now starts for the Denver Broncos. The Ravens kept six receivers on their final 53-man roster.

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Taft Coghill Jr: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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