The #Panthers have released WR Steve Smith.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) March 13, 2014
Statement from Panthers GM Dave Gettleman:
“When I took this position I knew that difficult decisions would have to be made along the way. To move on from a storied veteran player is probably the most difficult of all. A decision not to be taken lightly. However, after much thought I feel very strongly it’s the right one.
As I’ve stated many times, all decisions I make will be in the long-term best interest of the Carolina Panthers. Decisions, either popular or unpopular, have to be made for the greater good, and it is imperative to take an unemotional global view.
Sometimes it may appear that short-term interests will suffer, and I can assure you we have no interest in taking a step back from our 2013 accomplishments. Nevertheless, like all NFL teams, we are in transition as we try to get into the best position going forward. When Mr. Richardson hired me I promised him that my goal would be to leave the Panthers in a better position than when I came. All my efforts are in that vein.
Over the next few months we will have the opportunities afforded by free agency and the college draft to improve our roster. We also have young players who will get an opportunity. I have great trust in our evaluation process.
Steve had a wonderful career with the Carolina Panthers. I truly wish him and his wife, Angie, all of God’s blessings.”
- According to Joe Person, Smith gave the Panthers a list of trade partners to approach including: the Cowboys, Patriots, Ravens, Buccaneers and Chargers.
- Bill Voth first reported that the Panthers were unable to find a trade partner and are expected to release veteran WR Steve Smith at some point today.
- Joe Person reports that the Hakeem Nicks is the Panthers’ top target to replace Steve Smith.
- Person adds that the team hopes to bring Nicks in for a visit soon.
The Ravens, Raiders and Buccaneers have all been mentioned as potential landing spots for Smith was he’s released. Trade interest appears to be minimal.
Smith, 34, still has three years remaining on his four-year, $37.75 million contract and will count $7 million against the team’s 2014 salary cap. He totaled 64 receptions for 745 yards and four touchdowns.
Releasing Smith outright doesn’t appear to be an option given that they would take a cap hit of $2 million by releasing him, according to OverTheCap.com. Carolina could designate him as a Post June-1 release, which could give them $4 million in cap relief that could be used to sign their draft class.
There has been a lot of buzz that the Ravens could be an option for Smith if he were to be available.
Derrick Fox, the agent for Panthers WR Steve Smith, tells The Associated Press on Wednesday that Smith “is not going to play for the Panthers next year, I know that. I just don’t know when that transaction is going to take place.”
- Aaron Wilson reports that the Ravens are expected to “closely monitor” the Steve Smith situation.
Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, citing league sources, reports that the Ravens are expected to emerge as a “strong potential landing spot” Panthers veteran WR Steve Smith should if he were to be released.
- Wilson adds that the Buccaneers would also make “a lot of sense” for Smith.
- Ian Rapaport also mentions that the Ravens could be an option for Smith.
Ian Rapoport first reported that the Panthers are attempting to trade Smith on Monday.
There has been speculation that Smith could be on the chopping block dating back to the Scouting Combine a few weeks ago. However, based on Smith’s contract, it makes sense that they would explore a trade first before considering releasing him.