Wide receiver Steve Smith might regret not getting to know the rookies during a decade's worth of Panthers training camps, but that doesn't mean he's any more likely to want to stay in Carolina for an 11th NFL season.
Eye on Football blogging colleague Will Brinson wrote in May that Smith could be interested in the Raiders or Chargers, but pointed out that, "Smith doesn't exactly control his destiny in terms of where he'll end up in 2011, and you can expect the Panthers to use his value in an effort to try and rebuild on the fly."
And while we're so close to a new CBA and actual football, we're not there yet. Which means we're left to speculate and go on others' words. A source tells the Charlotte Observer's Tom Sorensen that the Chargers and Ravens are currently Smith's teams of choice.
Sorensen writes that "Although Smith, and not Julius Peppers, is the best player in Carolina history, the Panthers aren't obligated to trade him. It's not as if there's a lifetime achievement award he can parlay into a Get Out of Charlotte Free card. Depends what the Panthers can get for him.
|Smith's Saga in Charlotte|
"A third-round pick feels insufficient."
It feels insufficient until you remember that the Broncos might have to settle for a third-round pick for Kyle Orton, and the Steelers shipped Santonio Holmes to the Jets for a fifth-rounder last offseason. (Although that bargain-basement price tag had everything to do with Holmes' off-field troubles. But still, he was the Super Bowl MVP and the best pass catcher on the Jets in 2010 -- you'd think he'd still be worth more than that.)
Sorensen also notes that should Smith stay in Carolina he could serve as Cam Newton's security blanket, but that's part of the problem. As Brinson pointed out Saturday, "Smith wasn't a big fan of Jimmy Clausen [last season]. It's hard to blame him, because Clausen's ascension to the role of starter meant a serious step back for the passing game."
Plus, Smith's 32. He's not interested in being a part of the Panthers' rebuilding process; he wants to win now, while he still has a few good years left. And in that regard, San Diego makes a lot of sense. In fact, when quarterback Philip Rivers was asked about the prospects in May, he was all for it.
"Bring him on," he said. "Hey, we've got a great deal of weapons here. I certainly appreciate each and every one of them. Any time you can add a guy of that caliber, I'm all for it."
As is Smith, we'd imagine.
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