DE Chris Smith resuming NFL career with Panthers after girlfriend's death

Former Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith, whose girlfriend was killed in a traffic accident last September, signed a one-year deal with his hometown team, the Carolina Panthers, on Wednesday.

Smith's girlfriend, Petara Cordero, was struck and killed by a driver on Interstate 90 in Cleveland. She had been a passenger in Smith's 2019 Lamborghini and exited the vehicle when it had a tire malfunction and hit the median.

The couple had just had a daughter together the month before.

Smith, 28, started two games for the Browns in 2018, but compiled only one tackle in eight games following Cordero's death. The Browns released him on Dec. 3.

Smith, selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft, has also played for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals.

Smith recently decided that he wanted to resume his career.

"I'm excited. It's a fresh start for everybody," Smith said, according to the team's website. "I'm somebody that loves the game and loves to get after the quarterback from any position on the D-line."