Steve Smith released by Panthers; Ravens ‘favorite’ to sign him

Steve SmithAs expected, the Carolina Panthers released Steve Smith on Thursday. He is expected to draw interest from a number of teams, with Adam Schefter reporting that the Baltimore Ravens are the favorite to sign the 35-year-old veteran.

There is no doubt that Smith has lost a step. He appeared to revive his career when Cam Newton became the starting quarterback in Carolina, but he caught just 64 passes for 745 yards and four touchdowns last season. Smith is no longer a downfield threat or a No. 1 receiving option, but he can still be a possession receiver who plays with a physical attitude and isn’t afraid of contact.

Baltimore has been lacking a possession receiver since Anquan Boldin left. Many expected Torrey Smith to emerge as a legitimate No. 1 receiver last season, and you could argue that he did by eclipsing the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career. However, Torrey is still more of a burner. Steve could help the Ravens in the middle part of the field and open up the deep ball.

Other teams who will likely kick the tires on Smith include the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots. At this point, it may come down to which team believes Smith’s performance on the field will outweigh his outspoken attitude, which wore out its welcome in Carolina. No team should expect fireworks on the field.

Panthers GM Dave Gettleman reportedly sees Steve Smith as a distraction

Steve SmithThe Carolina Panthers have not yet waived Steve Smith, but it seems like a split between the two sides is inevitable.

There have been reports saying the Panthers are trying to trade Smith, who turns 35 in May and is coming off one of his least productive seasons. It sounds like there is more than just age and declining production factoring into the team’s decision to shop the receiver.

According to a Charlotte Observer report, Panthers GM Dave Gettleman views Smith as a distraction. The report says Gettleman wants to turn the locker room over to young quarterback Cam Newton and young linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Smith is a media and fan favorite because he is a tough guy with a serious attitude and because he loves to talk. He’s as real as it gets and plays with a chip on his shoulder, but that also results in him making a lot of headlines.

Having a chip on his shoulder may fuel Smith to be his best, but it also makes him a distraction. Maybe Carolina is getting rid of him at the right time. I just know that he still has another good season left and would line up to sign him if I were another team. The Ravens are said to be a good landing spot if Carolina lets Smith go.

H/T Rotoworld

Ravens might sign Steve Smith if he is released?

Steve SmithSteve Smith has not yet been released by the Carolina Panthers, but a market for his services should shape up in case the team lets him go.

In fact, Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun mentions the Ravens as a strong potential landing spot for Smith if the wide receiver is cut. Smith is set to make $3 million from Carolina even if the team cuts him. His cap figure for 2014 is $7 million.

In addition to the Ravens, Wilson says the Buccaneers could make sense for Smith.

Baltimore seems like a great spot for Smith. He has the toughness that would fit in well with that team and the type of personality GM Ozzie Newsome likes. He can still make big plays despite being 35, and Baltimore certainly lacked quality receiving options opposite Torrey Smith.

Keep in mind, though, that things with Smith might take some time to develop as the Panthers are still deciding what they’ll do with him.

Panthers reportedly trying to trade Steve Smith

Steve SmithThe Carolina Panthers reportedly are trying to trade one of their franchise icons and best players in team history.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Panthers are “attempting to trade” Steve Smith. Rapoport says Smith’s age (34) and cap number ($7 million) makes it unlikely for the Panthers to find a trade partner.

If the Panthers are unable to trade Smith, it sounds to reason that they could end up cutting him, which would cost them $9 million against the cap, according to Ben Volin.

This report isn’t all that surprising if you connected the dots based on what coach Ron Rivera and GM Dave Gettleman said during the combine. Rivera hinted that Smith might have a smaller role this season, and Gettleman said that the team would be evaluating Smith. The comments caught Smith off guard and seemed to understandably upset him.

Smith has been with the Panthers since 2001. Though he only put up 745 yards on 64 catches last season, he has 836 catches for 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns in his career.

Other teams should jump to get him even if his career is winding down.

Steve Smith can’t believe reporter’s dumb question (Video)

Steve SmithSteve Smith has very little patience for your idiotic questions, football reporters.

Smith was asked after his Carolina Panthers lost to the San Francisco 49ers 23-10 on Sunday if he would be rooting for the Seattle Seahawks to beat San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game. I guess the reporter’s logic was that Smith would want someone else to beat the team that knocked him out of the playoffs? I really don’t know. Neither did Smith.

Smith had a great response for the reporter.

“You really want me to thump you upside the head?,” Smith said. “That was the dumbest question, and that’s the second dumbest question you’ve asked. I only cheer for one team. Actually, two teams. My team and my kid’s team. Other than that I can give a bleep.”

Thanks for putting it so bluntly, as always, Smith. Smith also deserves a lot of credit for playing well in the Panthers’ playoff game. He caught 4 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown despite having a bad knee that kept him at around 60 percent according to most reports.

As for that reporter, well, I guess he’s going to have to go “ice up, son” after that assault.

Helmet smack to Shutdown Corner

Steve Smith upset with Ric Flair for supporting 49ers

Ric FlairRic Flair has somehow become a divisive figure in the NFL playoffs, if you can believe that.

On Saturday night, Flair flew into Wisconsin on a private jet to give the San Francisco 49ers a pep talk prior to their playoff game against the Green Bay Packers. The Niners won the game 23-20, and some credited Flair for being the secret weapon.

Well Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith found out about Flair speaking to the Niners, and he is not happy.

Flair has lived in Charlotte and has been a fan of Charlotte’s sports teams. His “wooo” used to play on the scoreboard during Panthers games. Smith feels like Flair betrayed the Panthers by pumping up the Niners, who will visit Carolina on Sunday for their divisional playoff game.

“That San Francisco bridge has been burned,” Smith said on Monday via Charlotte Observer columnist Tom Sorenson.

Not only do the 49ers have Flair on their side now, but San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick says the Niners owe Carolina a loss from Week 10. We’ll see who comes out on top, and whether Flair makes it up to the Panthers.

Steve Smith to Aqib Talib after the game ‘Ice up son!’ (Video)

Aqib Talib Steve SmithSteve Smith had a great message for Aqib Talib after the Carolina Panthers beat the New England Patriots 24-20 on Monday night.

NFL Network reporter Albert Breer caught up with Smith for an interview as the receiver was walking off the field. Breer asked him what happened between him and Talib (the two got into it several times earlier in the game). Smith, who is a notorious hot-head and trash talker, offered this answer.

“You’re gonna have to ask him. He didn’t finish the game. Ice up, son.”


Video via @WillBrinson