After 12 seasons with the Carolina Panthers, it’s fair to wonder if Steve Smith’s time with the franchise is dwindling. It’s hard to believe that he’s been there since 2001, but I guess it’s just one of those things you take for granted. Smith is as much of a face for the franchise, as Cam Newton is. When you think of the Panthers, you automatically think of Smith.
But just how much longer will he play in Carolina?
After some consideration, looking at his contract and all, I think he will indeed play another couple of years. That’s what Smith says he’ll do, and given the money he stands to make ($7.5 million+/season), I don’t blame him.
Head coach Ron Rivera did recently comment on whether or not the team has plans to replace Smith, in the near future:
“That’s one of the things that Dave (Gettleman) and I have talked about. But as of right now, Steve Smith is still an integral part of what we do and he’ll continue to be that big part for us.”
This is what you want to hear if you’re a Panthers fan. The team fully realizes the situation they’re in with Smith, and they’re already looking down the road to replace him. They know that they need him in the short-term to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive, but at the same time, they know it won’t last forever.
Steve Smith figures to finish his career as a Panther. That’s what he wants at this point, and the feeling is mutual from the organization. But in today’s NFL, we know all that can change in a heartbeat. For now, both parties benefit from the partnership, and they should focus on winning as many games as possible on the field.
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