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Report: Steve Smith staying with Panthers

After months of uncertainty, it looks like Steve Smith will be staying with the Carolina Panthers.

SmithSmithMichael Lombardi reports the Panthers won’t be trading Smith. The report also says Smith met with general manager Marty Hurney on Wednesday night and is expected to report to training camp Friday morning. Smith also told ESPN's Adam Schefter that he plans to spend the rest of his career with the Panthers.

Throughout the offseason, there were reports Smith had asked the team to trade him before the lockout even started. More recently, Smith said those reports weren’t true, but made it sound like a trade was possible by saying he would make a decision based on what was best for his family.

The Panthers never really wanted to move Smith. But they didn’t want to force him to stay if he was as frustrated as he was during last year’s 2-14 season. Rookie quarterback Cam Newton has been openly lobbying for Smith to stay.

The Panthers also have been very aggressive in trying to get players to buy into the system of new coach Ron Rivera. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rivera and maybe even some of his offensive assistants were involved in the meeting with Smith.

Whatever happened, it must have been enough to convince Smith that better times are ahead in Carolina.

The bottom line here is the Panthers are better off keeping Smith. He’ll provide immediate help. Shipping him off for a draft pick wouldn’t have accomplished that. Smith still has plenty left in the tank and the Panthers are a better team with him than without him.

His presence should make life a lot easier for Newton, Jimmy Clausen or whomever ends up starting at quarterback.