Chris Smith, a former NFL defensive lineman who played for five teams across an eight-year career, died Monday. He was 31.
Smith’s death was announced Tuesday by his agent and one of his former teams, the Cleveland Browns. His cause of death was not released.
“Chris was one of the kindest people, teammates and friends we’ve had in our organization,” the Browns said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
Smith last played in the NFL in 2021. In March 2023, he joined the XFL and signed with the Seattle Sea Dragons. He most recently appeared in a Sea Dragons game on April 9.
“Rest in Peace Chris,” said his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. “Condolences to all his family, friends and loved ones. We will miss you.”
Smith played in college at Arkansas from 2010-2013, performing well enough for the Jacksonville Jaguars to select him in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Across three seasons with the Jaguars, Smith tallied 4.5 sacks in 19 games. Ahead of the 2017 season, the team traded him to Cincinnati, where he played in all 16 games for the first time in his career.
Smith had his biggest role with the Browns in 2018, starting two games and once again appearing in all 16.
“Rest in paradise Chris Smith,” wrote his friend on that team, David Njoku. “Hometown hero and a brother to everyone. Such a kind soul. This is heartbreaking.”
Days after the start of the 2019 season, Smith’s girlfriend, Petara Cordero, was killed in a car accident in Cleveland. She and Smith were stopped on the side of the highway to fix a tire malfunction when a passing car struck and killed her.
Smith played in nine games that season, then eight with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020 and four with the Houston Texans in 2021.
“Love you bro,” said Raiders teammate Derek Carr, alongside a picture of him and Smith celebrating.
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