Arguably the greatest player in Carolina Panthers history is expected to be cut today, for reasons that are quite unclear. Steve Smith, the franchise leader in touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards (and the active league leader in all-purpose yards), likely went into the off-season expecting to be back with the only team he’s never known.
Told that Steve had a goodbye dinner at Jerry's, will be cut 2morrow. Likely will go to Tampa, Baltimore, New England or Philly. @Panthers
— QCsportsreport (@QCsportsreport) March 10, 2014
As we saw recently, past production is no reason to keep a former great around. But Smith had a decent season last year, and more importantly the Panthers don’t have anyone in particular stepping up to replace him. Brandon LaFell? Dominek Hixon? Both those guys are free agents, plus, not super good. Unless the Panthers take a surefire wide receiving hit in the draft this year, they’ll be painfully thin at the position.
Plus, there’s the monetary issue — as in, it’ll be about as expensive to have Smith on the roster as not. Via ProFootballTalk:
He’d have cost $7 million to keep on the cap this year, and they’ll carry $6 million worth of accelerations for him to be elsewhere (assuming a post-June 1 designation). That means they have to replace their best receiver with effectively $1 million worth of space. Check that, their only receiver. At a time when they needed more wideouts, they made the conscious choice to have none.
So if this cut is a personal thing, Smith should take it personally. Go to Tampa Bay, Steve. You’ll get to play your former team twice a year and join what should be a much better Bucs team headed by Lovie Smith. Line up across from Vincent Jackson and help turn Mike Glennon into a true NFL-caliber quarterback. Then smash the Panthers a few times and make them regret ever cutting you in exchange for… Hakeem Nicks? Santana Moss (who is basically a worse version of you)? This is a bad call, Steve — make sure they know it.
Photo via Getty