Smith took to his Instagram page Thursday afternoon and dropped a bombshell by announcing he is stepping away from football for the 2019 season.
"It was said to me from a great coach, that in order for the man to be his best, he must get his world in order," Smith wrote. "At this time I must take time away from the game & get my world in order. I must give this time back to myself, my family, & my health.
"I appreciate all the support I will & will not get. I just ask y'all respect my decision to not play football this season."
"If there is a way we can support him we need to understand that."
Smith, who turned 28 on April 11, was set to enter his sixth professional season since entering the league in 2014 as a fifth-round pick with the Jaguars.
Over the past five seasons, Smith has been a mainstay for the linebacker group and for one of the league's top defensive units. He has appeared in 76 games with 69 starts, and produced five straight seasons with 100-plus tackles. Smith was selected to the 2017 Pro Bowl.
His decision to step away for a season will be met with scrutiny and plenty of speculation on his future in Jacksonville. But Smith, who hasn't been in attendance for the team's voluntary offseason workout program, appeared to understand he will be under the microscope.
"I know the rumors of trade talk came about, but I started my career in Jacksonville & the day I do decide to call it quits it will be right here in Duval," Smith wrote.