The career of Steve Smith appeared to be closing down as his numbers declined through the 2008-10 seasons. Smith was down to just 46 catches and 554 yards during the 2010 year. The Carolina Panthers then drafted Cam Newton as their new quarterback, and things have turned around for Smith. He had 79 catches in 2011 and another 73 last season as he gets his career back on track. The Panthers are going to need another year like last season if they want to make a playoff run this coming year.
I really thought that Smith was done a few years ago. I didn’t realize how much a quarterback could change a player’s fortunes, but that’s obviously the case with him. The other thing that has always got me about Smith is that he is only 5-9 but has the ability to come up with 85 or 90 catches in a season. He even had 103 catches in 2005 which is just mind-blogging to me. The Panthers are on the right track to get into the playoff chase after winning their last four games last season.
Smith will be the key if the Panthers do pull this off however. I think he has to come up with another 75-80 catches this coming season. Everyone knows that the ability is there and he can still do some special things, but how much longer can he keep it going? He just turned 34 years old and there may only be another three or four years left. I hope the Panthers can make it a point to have Smith there for the rest of his career. The team freed up over $3 million in cap space on Wednesday when they restructured the contract of DeAngelo Williams. Could they use that money on Smith moving forward? I would think it would be the smart thing to do.