After conflicting reports have floated all over the Web over the past few days, Steve Smith’s agent, Derrick Fox, finally made it clear his client will not be playing for the Carolina Panthers in 2014. He added that he doesn’t know when Smith will be cut, but was adamant the 34-year-old receiver will be playing for a different team this season. With the 2014 NFL free agency signing period well underway, Carolina needs to make that transaction and then move forward quickly.
Brandon LaFell was the Panthers’ No. 2 receiver behind Smith, but he’s long gone as a free agent as well with the latest rumors suggesting he’ll sign with the New England Patriots. That means Carolina has absolutely nobody at receiver for 2014, which can’t sit well with quarterback Cam Newton.
The biggest names among receivers on the free agent market are Eric Decker and Santonio Holmes, although the former seems bound to join the New York Jets soon. With Golden Tate off the market, the next best option is Hakeem Nicks, who is always banged up and would be risky signing as a No. 1 target.
The other options include James Jones, Julian Edelman and Emmanuel Sanders, although neither of those three players have been linked to Carolina thus far. That’s a bigger problem considering the Panthers need two new starting-caliber receivers and not just one. The clock is ticking and you better believe Newton will be lighting a fire under the front office to ensure he has weapons at his disposal in 2014.