Yes I did take it as an insult to Smith and I believe that Smith was bothered by it as well. You don't tell the media that you're evaluating Smith while speaking of him in the past tense. You are right about one thing though, words do have meaning.
Asked if there's any chance the Panthers would part ways with Smith -- set to make $4 million guaranteed along with a $3 million bonus -- Gettleman said: "Steve's had a great career, and (super-long pause) the bottom line is, it's part of the evaluation process."
We are getting too technical but that isn't past tense. It's present perfect. I am an English teacher you know. Laugh
Is it ruthless? Yes Is it an insult? No Gettleman is evaluating whether or not it is worth it to pay him that 7 million bonus. Being ruthless in this business is not a bad thing. That doesn't mean he will be gone. Steve's reaction to the comments is "Do you realize who I am?" Do you realize what I've done for this organization?" when the appropriate thing to say is business is business. No player in this league is above this.