Steve Smith will always be my favorite Panther. I'm sure many of you feel the same way. He's individually won more games for the Panthers than any other player. His attitude is contagious not only on the field but off it. No player has meant more to the franchise than him. If he wins a Superbowl in the few remaining seasons he has left (should he miraculously stay with the Panthers or he wins one with another team) - there's no doubt in my mind he's a Hall of Famer.
That said, things have changed in Carolina. There's a new emphasis on winning over loyalty. Let's face it, Steve Smith has lost a few steps. He's lost that initial burst of speed that could turn a 10 yard catch into a 50 yard TD. While he's still a solid receiver, he's making the money that 27 year old Steve Smith would have made. He'll be 35 when the season starts and in all likelihood his stats will continue to decrease. He's not the same game-changing superstar he once was. Sure he might go have a respectable season should he go somewhere else, but I understand if the Panthers decide to cut him. It's hard not to get emotional about it because Steve Smith is the best Panther player ever.
Everyone knows this day was coming - it's just a shame to see Smith's exit may not be on his terms. Let's just give respect to the best Panther player of all time and wish him the best. He's entertained us for over a decade and that's what he deserves. No hate for Gettleman either - he's trying to do what's best for the team long term, and I also respect that.