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Thursday, March 13, 2014
Smith: 'I am no longer a No. 1 wide receiver'

By David Newton

 

Here are words you probably never thought you'd hear from wide receiver Steve Smith.

"I am no longer a No. 1 wide receiver and I know that," Smith told Sirius XM's Bleacher Report radio on Thursday after the Carolina Panthers released him. "And I've been knowing that, and I don't have a problem with that.

"I will adjust to whatever team and whatever role that I would have. The only thing is I would like to know what that role is and what the expectation is so I can exceed it."

Wonder if Smith had the opportunity to tell this to the Panthers before they cut their all-time leading receiver? Wonder if the Panthers asked before making the decision to dump a receiver that they'll have to pay $5 million to play for somebody else this season?

Steve Smith
Now in his mid-30s, WR Steve Smith will likely go from top target to a team's second option next season.
My whole argument against cutting Smith was he still can be valuable as a No. 2 receiver, that he wouldn't be the distraction general manager Dave Gettleman and others believe he would have been in a lesser role.

Maybe this was Smith being politically correct because he now has to sell himself to another team. But I believe Smith, soon to be 35, was ready to morph into the "other" receiver if the Panthers signed somebody capable of taking over the top spot.

He insists he's been asking management to get another top receiver for several years.

I believe Smith was ready to play nice with others, even though management apparently had its doubts.

Smith was asked directly about those doubts on WFNZ-AM radio in Charlotte. He didn't refer directly to Gettleman, who had the ultimate say in the decision to release him, but he talked about individuals who hadn't been with Carolina since Day 1 judging him.

Gettleman is beginning his second year at Carolina.

"So your inaccurate assumption of something that has transpired is called an opinion," Smith said. "Whatever the case may be, my job is to be a football player."

Smith made a similar comment that could be taken as a shot at Gettleman in his Sirius interview.

"I believe my legacy as a Carolina Panther exceeds one individual over a short amount of time," he said.

In defense of Gettleman, the $7 million Smith was to count against the salary cap is too high for a No. 2 receiver. Gettleman also is strapped under the salary cap, and at no time did Smith say in either radio interview he would take a substantial cut to stay.

According to Smith's agent, Derrick Fox, that never was asked.

The good news is Smith plans to keep his permanent home in Charlotte. He even talked of being buried here.

His respect for team owner Jerry Richardson, who also has been a friend to him and his family through some tough times, hasn't changed.

"It doesn't change my respect and relationship with the Panthers organization as far as Mr. and Mrs. Richardson, the Richardson family, how they've done great things for me as a man and as an individual, professionally and personally," Smith said on Sirius.

"You can't allow an individual or individuals to change how much a corporation or organization has treated me. I won't allow that to happen, and I won't think about it."