Both players started eight games this season and were in the starting lineup in Sunday's debacle in Los Angeles.
While neither Smith or Benwikere are difference-makers, it's uncharacteristic for a team to jettison non-injured starting players at this stage in the season, especially teams that lack quality depth.
During his press conference on Monday, coach Steve Wilks cited inconsistency with both Smith and Benwikere as the reason they were cut. The coach insisted he wasn't sending a message to his players following Sunday's flop.
"I'm not in the business of sending messages. I'm very direct," he said, noting if players can't help on the field, the team needs to move on, via Darren Urban of the team's official website.
Whether or not it's intended as a message, tossing veteran starters out into the late-November cold will certainly get the attention of the locker room.
Korey Cunningham is expected to move to right tackle with D.J. Humphries anticipated back at left tackle this week.
Monday's cuts signal offseason whiffs by the front office. General manager Steve Keim gave Smith a two-year contract in the offseason with $3.5 million in guarantees. He was not the answer the Cards hoped for a struggling offensive line. Smith struggled even when healthy, including giving up a pair of sacks Sunday. It's telling that a team that struggles to block and doesn't own great depth wouldn't even care to keep Smith around as insurance.
In addition to cutting Smith and Benwikere, the Cards placed kicker Phil Dawson (hip) and linebacker Josh Bynes (thumb) on IR. The team signed kicker Zane Gonzalez from the practice squad to replace Dawson.