"I'm kind of baffled that they drafted me," Smith recently told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Ten games into my second season, they benched me, and it was over after that."
Smith has only thrown three touchdown passes in his last 382 attempts, and he hasn't led a touchdown drive since 2001. He suffered a torn left hamstring during a game in December of 2001. He started one game in September of 2002 and went 12-for-33 with a 34.5 passer rating in a 35-7 loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay. Gus Frerotte had started the first three games. Smith found himself on the bench again after that game, and the Bengals went with Kitna as their starter.
"I think we all liked Akili when he (came out of college)," said Mark Hatley, Green Bay's vice president of football operations. "We all had good grades on him. For whatever reason, it hasn't worked for him at Cincinnati. We want a chance to visit with him, see where his talent is and how it fits in to what we're trying to do system-wise and stuff, and how he compares to what we've got. That's what we always try to do, try to get better on our roster if we can."
The Packers currently have four quarterbacks competing for backup spots behind Brett Favre. They include veteran Doug Pederson, Craig Nall, Eric Crouch and Zak Kustok. Pederson, an 11th-year pro, and Nall, a second-year pro who performed well in NFL Europe this spring, are expected to challenge for the No. 2 spot. Crouch has been inconsistent during the team's post-draft and current minicamp, and Kustok is a longshot to make the roster.
By releasing Smith after June 1, the Bengals created about $530,000 of salary cap space for this year, according to bengals.com. Smith will count $1.8 million against Cincinnati's cap this year and $3 million in 2004. Carson Palmer, the top pick in the draft this season, is expected to back up Kitna this year for the Bengals. Cincinnati also recently signed free agent Shane Matthews.