Wide receiver Steve Smith, for years the face of the Carolina Panthers, will not be returning to the team for the 2014 season. So says his agent, Derrick Fox, who told the Associated Press today that Smith is done in Carolina.
“[Smith] is not going to play for the Panthers next year, I know that,” Fox told the AP. “I just don't know when that transaction is going to take place.”
Fox said the Panthers have been shopping Smith in a trade, but there have been no takers so far for the 34-year-old wideout. Smith is scheduled to make $7 million this season. Smith will be paid $3 million by the Panthers regardless of whether he stays or goes.
Panthers GM Dave Gettleman, a former Giants’ executive, said last month at the Scouting Combine that the team was uncertain about Smith’s role, something Smith found unsettling to hear. Especially because Gettleman hadn’t brought it up with the receiver until they met face-to-face after the Combine.
“Where we are disappointed is the fact he signed an extension to stay loyal to the club and complete his career as a Panther,” Fox told the AP. “That is why we did the long-term team deal. Now we are at a crossroads where the Panthers don't want him anymore.”
Smith is the Panthers’ all-time leading receiver with 836 catches for 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns. His numbers were down last year, though, as he had 746 receiving yards and four TDs.
“At 34, they could have kept him and run him in the slot,” Fox said. “Steve wants to play in the slot. But he can't play the slot with the current roster, and he hasn't been able to play in the slot with the rosters in the past.”