If the Panthers are hoping that veteran receiver Steve Smith will decide to call it quits if the team decides to move on without the 13-year veteran, the Panthers may need to hope for something else.
“Today?” Smith recently said to Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer. “No, I’m not ready to not play today.”
That possibly means Smith would continue his career elsewhere, if Carolina G.M. Dave Gettlemen concludes that it’s time to move on.
“I’m not even going to think that far ahead,” Smith said.
He’d surely be tempted to play elsewhere, possibly for another team in Carolina’s division. The magnitude of the offers he receives would surely be a factor, and there may not be much available, given that roughly 50 receivers are due to hit the market.
Smith, 33, presumably has a few more years left, if he chooses to play. He’s also moving up the all-time lists; his 836 receptions are 25th in league history, his 12,197 receiving yards put him at 19th, and his 67 receiving touchdowns have him tied for 39th.
For now, his primary focus is the impending birth of his fourth child, a son who will take Smith’s name. The veteran wideout has said he plans to add the “Sr.” to his jersey in 2014.
All that remains to be seen is whether that jersey will bear the colors of the Panthers, another team, or no team at all.