Great read. Bill reveals that there were rumors that Smitty was possibly going to be cut when the players left for the offseason back in January, which I hadn't heard before. So, apparently, where there is smoke, there is indeed some degree of fire. He also makes a good point about the locker room. He says Smitty IS THE PANTHER, for a lack of a better term, and with him in the locker room, it kind of smothers Luke and Cam from becoming the complete leaders of the team they should be. All that being said, I possibly would vomit, and I'm not exaggerating, if we cut Smitty and don't let him leave the game on his own terms after playing his entire career as a Panther. That's the way it should be. He deserves it.
The Steve Smith Situation: 5 Myths and Facts Cleared Up
To say Steve Smith is arguably the best player in Panthers’ history is either playing Devil’s advocate or a hope to get into an argument with someone that struggles with facts and stats. There is no argument.
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The mercurial receiver has been with the franchise for 13 of its 19 seasons (68%), playing in 191 of 315 of its games (61%), including nine of its 11 playoff games (82%), while scoring 10 of the team’s 24 postseason touchdowns (42%).
This past season Smith jumped into the Top 25 of NFL career receiving yards (19th) and catches (25th), becoming the 29th player to total 800 career receptions and 22nd to reach 12,000 career receiving yards.
He ranks second in games played and games started for the Panthers. His team records include receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and yards per reception.
Smith extended his franchise-best 106 games with a reception streak in the playoff loss to the 49ers, and when the Panthers scattered for the offseason, most just assumed he would be around to go for 107+ starting in Week 1 of the 2014 season.
But then the NFL Combine happened.
When asked about his soon-to-be 35-year-old receiver, general manager Dave Gettleman responded with a sentence that included the past tense. Head coach Ron Rivera was non-committal.
Since then, we’ve parsed and analyzed words. Smith went on the radio and expressed disappointment he wasn’t given a heads-up that his future in Carolina may be in doubt.
Some fans are upset. Some are worried. Some think all this is media-made. Never has the word “had” freaked out the Panthers fan base as much as it has this week.
With so many rumors and assumptions flying around, it’s time to clear some things up. After talking to a number of people familiar with the situation, here are some facts and myths about what you may be hearing and reading.THIS IS ABOUT MONEY – MYTH
Smith has three years left on his contract. His cap number for 2014 is $7 million. OverTheCap.com does a great job breaking it all down here.
While the Panthers are cap-challenged, whether Smith plays for them next season does not hinge on whether they can get him to restructure his contract.
If he does return, would they prefer he restructure? Sure, that’s Gettleman’s move right now. But it’s not a make or break thing.
There are two bigger issues to explain the team’s lack of commitment: 1) production, 2) locker room.
Smith’s production took a nosedive last year, and while a scaled-back passing game leaves room for a reasonable excuse, the fact is he will be a 35-year-old receiver in 2014. He can still make plays like he did late against the Dolphins or versus the 49ers in the playoffs. He can still help a team. He is still the Panthers best receiver. But he is no longer an ideal No. 1 receiver and age will not reverse that course.
Meanwhile, Smith’s presence is still the biggest in the Panthers’ locker room. He has matured, but he can still be ornery, not just to media, but to teammates. Beyond that, though, is this – for as long as Smith is a Panther, his aura will continue to permeate the locker room. And as hard as it could be for him and fans to accept, it is no longer his time. Carolina’s building a future led by quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly. If Smith is still around, he in large part still controls the locker room.GETTLEMAN COULD HAVE HANDLED THIS BETTER – FACT
I’ll admit, in January, when I first heard a Smith cut could be possible, I didn’t think much of it. Few outside the building had much of a clue. Gettleman’s Combine comments were the first public acknowledgements something like this was even possible. Sure, he’s going to be 35, but he’s … Steve Smith.
Gettleman’s misstep is when he went present tense. “Steve’s had a great career. None of us are here forever,” he said.
That set off questions and alarm bells that haven’t stopped with further non-committal comments by Rivera.
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