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Smith's departure was necessary
Loyalty no match for productivity
Published Sunday, March 16, 2014 11:42 am
by Herbert L. White

The Carolina Panthers fired the best player in franchise history last week.

It’s a good and necessary thing.

Steve Smith, who was cut after 13 seasons in Charlotte, is a Baltimore Raven now, but you’d think the man was robbed of his birthright to retire here by Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman. Fans are outraged by the perceived lack of loyalty for a player who gave his all for a franchise that has known more down than up during his time here. 

Oh please.

Not only is that short sighted, it’s wrong. No one brings up Smith going to Panthers owner Jerry Richardson after the disastrous 2010 season to request a trade. Smith was within his rights to ask and Richardson was within his to keep him around. The difference between then and last week is productivity, as in Smith’s is dropping as his age increases. When the season starts, he’ll be 35 and coming off a fairly pedestrian campaign as Carolina’s primary deep threat with 745 yards and four touchdowns. That won’t cut it with a dynamic quarterback in Cam Newton who needs an upgraded receiver corps.

Could Smith still fit, especially if he slides to the slot as a new No. 1 is groomed? Absolutely. Is he worth $7 million a year – No. 1 receiver money, by the way? Get real. Better to let Smith go a year early than keep him a year too late. He gets a $3 million going away gift from the Panthers and the chance to compete for an AFC title with the Ravens, not a bad deal. Carolina gets a chance to restock its offensive arsenal, which, by the way, is in desperate need of help on the line as well as receivers.

The Panthers will certainly miss Smith’s toughness and prickly attitude, but physically he’s diminished. He’s no longer destroying defensive backs one-on-one, and all but the deluded can see it. His strengths aren’t as good a fit in Charlotte.

Could the Panthers have handled his departure better? Perhaps, but that’s secondary to the need to move forward. The Panthers are relevant, but in need of refreshing, which means younger players will have to carry the load. It doesn’t make sense to insist on winning at the expense of developing the talent needed to make it happen. In Carolina, the defense has already made that transition; it’s time for the offense to follow suit.

It meant kicking Smith to the curb. That’s not personal. It’s about the business of competing.




This is the most level-headed assessment of the situation I've read. In his first year as GM, Gettlemen gave us the NFC South Championship by building a better defense through bold draft choices and plucking a secondary out of obscurity from around the league's discard pile. When a team who at the beginning of the season was thought to have a weak secondary, ends the year being touted as "the legion of whom," that means you have a magician as a GM with a strong scouting crew. Gettlemen was saddled by former GM Marty Hurney's philosophy of paying top salaries to players in a mishmash of personal loyalty and with a tunnel vision as to the achievements of the player's last season. In other words he bought at the height of the market as a course of practice. Loyalty is great, but I want a GM who is not only looking at last season, but at the potential of the season to come. And although I am personally very sad to see Steve Smith go, I'm not crying too much for him. He is a better fit for the Ravens at this point, who with him are a possible Super Bowl team again. Plus, he's getting an extra payday out of the whole deal to boot: not bad. I'm just as anxious as anyone to read the headline for our first signing of a WR or OT, but here's my big point: I didn't buy my house based on what is the newest or flashiest or currently trending; rather, I tried to wait out the market, looking for top quality at good value for a price (and philosophy) that fit the amount of money I had. I'm OK with my football franchise doing the same and hope my fellow Panthers fans will keep their chins up and remember that Gettlemen has not yet earned our mistrust. On the contrary, he is showing good signs after one season of being a man with a vision who is leading us to success.
Posted on March 17, 2014
Smith should get some opportunities now...doesn't have a media hype for a quarterback in Baltimore
Posted on March 16, 2014
I read that the Panthers paid Smith 5 million to not play instead of 7 million to play. Reports also stated that the team "talked" about asking Smith to restructure, but they "heard" he would not agree, so they did not formally ask him.
Posted on March 16, 2014

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