Steve Smith, 34 years old, has officially been released by the Carolina Panthers. Smith has played all 13 of his professional football career as a member of the Panthers franchise. Panthers general manager Dale Gettleman finalized the decision that it is in the Panthers organization’s best overall interest to move on and release veteran wide receiver, Steve Smith. Reports covering the Panthers and Smith’s release indicate that while Smith is not necessarily angry about his release, he is not pleased with Gettleman choosing not to meet with him privately to inform him about his probable trade or release from the team over the past month. Nonetheless, Smith has drawn interest among teams around the league with the Baltimore Ravens being the favorite to sign him.
While many view the Panthers decision to release Steve Smith to be a major blow and step in the wrong direction as the team moves forward, GM Dale Gettleman insists that he has only the best intentions for the future of the team. Moreover, speculations suggest that the Panthers will be seeking out a possible replacement for Smith this offseason while the team as of now lacks a number one receiver. Taking a glance at what free agency has to offer, the seemingly most viable option to fill Smith’s role as the Panthers number one receiver is New York Giant’s free agent, Hakeem Nicks. In addition to losing long-term veteran Steve Smith, the Panthers have also failed to sign other primary receivers such as Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. both of whom are now free agents. As a result, the Panthers are currently shorthanded at the wide receiver position. Hence, we can expect the Panthers to address this issue promptly and look into potential free agent signings as well as draft prospects that can in turn fulfill the Panthers plummeted wide receiving core.
As we delve further into the significance of Smith’s release and what is to come for the Panthers in the upcoming season, it deems essential for the Panthers to be aggressive this offseason and acquire offensive weapons that quarterback Cam Newton can throw the ball to. As exemplified by last season’s successes, the Panthers have a devastating defensive roster, as well as an offense that has proven effective when focused around star quarterback, Cam Newton. In all, the Panthers have not lost any key pieces to their defensive unit this offseason and can expect yet another solid year from their defensive unit this upcoming season. However, in order for the Panthers to continue their success on the offensive side of the ball, it is pivotal that they find a way to surround Cam Newton with an apparent number one receiver who can replace Newton’s ex-favorite target to throw to, Steve Smith. In final analysis, the Panthers decision to release Smith undoubtedly takes a toll on the Panthers when talking about the short-term goals of the team. As a result, the Panthers have lost a talented receiver number one receiver as well as a leader that football team.
Commentary by Robert Lucas