After 13 years with the Carolina Panthers, it seems like Steve Smith might be on his way out of the team, either by a trade the’re aiming for, and if not by simply releasing him to avoid paying his rather high salary in 2014.
Smith’s jersey has actually been removed from the online store, but according to the team it has to do with his desire to add Sr. to the back because of the impending arrival of his namesake, not his impending departure from the team.
Smith is due to make $7 million in 2014; he’ll be 35 when the season begins, and is coming off a season with 64 receptions and 745 yards. He had over 1100 yards in both 2011 and 2012, but there’s a good chance age has finally caught up with him this season, or it simply might be the lack of offensive weapons the Panthers have to help Cam Newton with.
The biggest goal going into this offseason has been equipping Newton with more tools to work with. So how does getting rid of Smith fit in? The Panthers probably don’t believe Smith is irreplacable. He might be the biggest name in franchise history with quite a few records to his name, but what he can and will contribute to them is no longer worth a $7 million salary.
So the Panthers are calling teams, trying to see who is interested in an overpaid veteran wide receiver who can still help, but will come for any kind of draft pick they’re willing to give Carolina. If that doesn’t work, being released isn’t something that hasn’t crossed their minds.
Smith, who has been in the NFL with the Panthers since 2001 hasn’t played less than 14 games since the 2004 season. He is a 5-time Pro Bowler and two-time first team All-Pro. He’s 19th all-time in receiving yards and 25th all-time in receptions.