Steve Smith photo by Keith Allison Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Will this be Steve Smith's last year as a Carolina Panther? Steve
Smith has been the best Carolina Panthers wide receiver for most of the last 13
years but his production has fell off in 2013.
Now don't get me wrong, this is not a bashing of Steve
Smith. 89 is my favorite Carolina Panther of all time, my Twitter profile has
his photo on it. I hope Steve Smith stays a Carolina Panther for as long as he
wants to but let's look at the situation.
Steve Smith is not having a very good season at this point
(written before the Patriots game) in 2013. Part of this could be design by
Mike Shula but Smith has not had a long reception or a breakout game yet. Steve
Smith has had 77 passes thrown to him, catching 42 of them for three
touchdowns. Smith has also had five drops and they seem to come in crucial situations
for the Carolina Panthers. Steve Smith is averaging about 10.5 yards per catch
and seems to be running over the middle for most of his catches.
Clearly Steve Smith has lost a step and is doing the dirty
work for his catches and not producing many big plays. With the addition of
speeder Ted Ginn Jr. and the slight improvement of Brandon LaFell, Smith is not
as important in the offense as in years past.
The Carolina Panthers have been trying to clear cap space to
resign Greg Hardy and Cam Newton. Many Panthers restructured their contracts to
avoid being released and Steve Smith may have to do the same to play in 2014
for the Carolina Panthers.
According to Spotrac.com Steve Smith has a $4 Million base
salary in 2014 with a $2 Million bonus due to him. I don't think Dave Gettleman
will be willing to pay that for an aging wide receiver with the drops. Of
course if Steve Smith really takes off for the rest of this season, his value
will go up.
Steve Smith is loved by some Carolina Panthers fans and hated
by others. Smith has the history of hitting two teammates and of saying what is
on his mind. I love his style of play and his willingness to fight for every
ball. And Steve Smith by all accounts is a favorite of Panthers owner Jerry
Richardson so he could be left alone in 2014 and not asked to restructure.
There is every chance Steve Smith would redo his contract if
asked to by the Carolina Panthers. The team is poised to win in 2014 and Steve
Smith wants that elusive Super Bowl Ring. I do think Steve Smith will be a
Carolina Panther next year one way or another.