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.