Of the Panthers’ various options for receiver Steve Smith, keeping him won’t be the one that’s selected.
Smith’s agent, Derrick Fox, tells Steve Reed of the Associated Press that Smith will have a new home in 2014.
“[Steve] is not going to play for the Panthers next year, I know that,” Fox said. “I just don’t know when that transaction is going to take place.”
If the Panthers cut Smith, they’ll owe him $3 million in fully-guaranteed base salary, with no offset clause. It means that he can sign with another team, keep that team’s money, and keep Carolina’s $3 million.
A trade would send that obligation to a new team, clearing the Panthers of any financial obligations. But a new team has no reason to pay $7 million for Smith. A new team would be more inclined to wait for Smith to be released and sign him on the open market.
The contract that gives Smith plenty of leverage and the Panthers few desirable choices was signed in 2012. It was supposedly Smith’s retirement deal.
“Where we are disappointed is the fact he signed an extension to stay loyal to the club and complete his career as a Panther,” Fox said. “That is why we did the long-term team deal. Now we are at a crossroads where the Panthers don’t want him anymore.”
The next question is whether someone else does. It’s safe to assume the answer is yes.