Carolina Panthers tried to sign Jaylon Smith before LB joined Green Bay Packers

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On the same day they landed star cornerback Stephon Gilmore in a trade, the Carolina Panthers also made a push to sign former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith, league sources told ESPN.

Shortly after sending a 2023 sixth-round draft pick to the New England Patriots for Gilmore, the Panthers made attempts to convince Smith to join Carolina rather than the Green Bay Packers. The Washington Football Team also expressed interest in Smith, who had mutual interest in both Carolina and Washington, according to sources.

But Smith ultimately decided to reunite with Packers coach Matt LaFleur, whom he spent two seasons with at Notre Dame. Smith and LaFleur had remained in touch and have immense respect for each other, and that relationship ultimately helped convince Smith to go to Green Bay, sources said.

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But it wasn’t for a lack of interest and attention from the Panthers (3-1), a team that had designs to make one of the league’s top defenses even better.

Panthers defensive back Donte Jackson said Wednesday that the Gilmore trade sent a message to the defense that “they’re confident we can win now,” and general manager Scott Fitterer echoed that sentiment, saying the reason he pushed to acquire Gilmore was “to win now.”

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