It doesn’t take long to realize that Panthers coach Ron Rivera is very direct. Ask him about wide receiver Steve Smith, and Rivera doesn’t try to skirt around the fact Smith’s future with the team is uncertain.
“We have to go through the process and see how things fit and where he sees it. It’s a touchy thing,” Rivera said about Smith to Joseph Person of he Charlotte Observer. “We’re going to have to wait until everything’s cleared up and see where he is.”
Rivera said he had a “great discussion” with Smith about his future. It has been reported Smith requested a trade during last season and he makes for a logical trade candidate. For now, Rivera is asking a wait and see approach.
“We’ve got to have our minicamp and all that when we get the opportunity and see how he fits with it, and see how it fits him and see if it’s what we need and what we want, and we’ll go from there,” Rivera said. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s a part of what we are right now.”
A prolonged work stoppage would make Smith more likely to stay in Carolina. Veteran trades wouldn’t be allowed leading up the NFL Draft, and an abbreviated free agency period could make it harder to pull off big deals.