Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Steve Smith addresses rumors
ESPN.com news services
Receiver Steve Smith says he hasn't demanded a trade but has asked the Carolina Panthers to be "in a competitive situation."
Smith contacted Pro Football Weekly on Tuesday so he could clear up reports that he wanted out of Carolina.
"These people that keep writing these articles, none of them have even spoken to me. What I want to do is be classy and not tip my cards, be respectful to the [Panthers] organization," he told the publication.
"It's not me saying, 'Yes, I want a trade.' It's still a family matter, and when my family feels it's the appropriate time, our actions will show how we feel."
Pro Football Weekly had earlier reported that Smith cleaned out his locker at Bank of America Stadium before the NFL lockout began in March. The report also said Smith, on the same day, took down all of the decorations in the luxury suite his family used on game days.
The earlier Pro Football Weekly report also said Smith asked to be traded before the lockout began.
Smith, however, told Pro Football Weekly on Tuesday that he hasn't formally requested a trade.
"I have not demanded a trade. What I have asked for is to be in a competitive situation," he told the publication. "I sat down with [general manager] Marty [Hurney] a lot of times prior to the lockout. I am respected as a veteran amongst the players as well as the front office. So there has been dialogue [about my future in Carolina] prior to the lockout."
When asked if he expected to be traded, he said he didn't know what to expect once the lockout ends.
Smith's Charlotte home has been on the market for more than a year, but he said last season that was because he was considering moving to another home in the area that would better accommodate his family. He told Pro Football Weekly that he's selling his home because it was too big for his family.
"I think it's important that people realize I am not packing my bags. As far as why my house is for sale, we built this huge house and we just don't have any business living in it. It seemed like a great idea, and then we moved into this big house. We started cringing at all that space we had. For me, it was a little bit vain that I have this big house with this big yard," he told the publication.
"People saw my house was on sale and said it was me sending a message. Really the message I sent was to my kids: Dad made a mistake. This isn't how we are supposed to live. This isn't what I should be projecting. If we don't do this now, what incentive do I give my kids to reach for? You make a lot of money and then you go blow it? I don't want to be a statistic. I want to be a good steward."
The team has been deliberate when discussing Smith's future publicly. At the NFL owners meeting, Rivera said he had talked to Smith before the lockout and that the team would wait to see how things sorted out.
A team official told ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas that Smith was told in January that he should sit down and think about his future. The team official said Smith was told, if he wanted out, that the team would work with him. But the official also said it was made clear to Smith that the Panthers will not simply release him or "give him away."
Smith denied that this conversation took place.
"I was never asked to sit down and weigh my future in Carolina," he told Pro Football Weekly. "I was never approached by management or by Coach [Ron] Rivera to weigh my options or my future [here]. I sat down with Coach Rivera after he was hired because I was asked to and because that's what veterans do. They sit down and meet with the new decision makers."
Smith joined the Panthers in 2001 and has spent his entire career in Carolina. He told Pro Football Weekly that the changes the team has made recently, headlined by the selection of quarterback Cam Newton with the No. 1 overall pick, "are huge. They are foundational changes. I think it changes the whole attitude, the whole atmosphere."
Smith has two years remaining on his contract with the Panthers and nearly $15 million in outstanding base salary.
He's scheduled to make $7 million this season and $7.75 million in 2012.
If a salary cap is in place this year, Smith is scheduled to cost the Panthers $9.963 million in cap space. He also is scheduled to count $10.713 against the 2012 salary cap. If the Panthers trade Smith, they'd be off the hook for his base salaries. But they would take a cap hit of $3.926 million this year for pro-rated signing bonus money already paid to Smith.
Information from ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas was used in this report.