The ongoing saga between long-time receiver Steve Smith and the Carolina Panthers is over. Smith was released Thursday.
“Steve has been one of the NFL’s finest receivers for over a decade and has been the face of the franchise for a large part of the team’s history,” Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman Gettleman said in a press release. “As a team, we made a step forward last year; however we are also a team in transition, which is a part of the NFL.”
Smith's numbers have been down the last two seasons, but at age 34, he believes he still has another productive year or two in him, so he has decided to keep playing. Smith said it just about perfectly on his Twitter account yesterday: "I will always be a Carolina panther No contract can ever change that CLT is my home and will always be my home ... I love you #panthernation."
Smith then added in a follow-up tweet: "But I still have a lil bit of football left in me .... #agent89 Out. #iceupson."
That "iceupson" hashtag was a shot at former Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib, who was coming off a hip injury and couldn't finish the game when Carolina beat the Patriots during the regular season.
Looks like Smith plans to do battle with other opposing cornerbacks in the year aead. The early speculation has him heading to Baltimore, where the Ravens have just re-signed Jacoby Jones but can use another target for Joe Flacco.