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Dave Gettleman on Steve Smith: 'None of us are here forever'

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Panthers had an impressive offseason last year that helped vault them to a 12-win season. This year is going to be even more difficult, though, largely because of all the different roster decisions they'll have to make.

One potential decision could come with long-time Panther wideout and fan favorite Steve Smith. When asked about 89 on Thursday, second-year Carolina GM Dave Gettleman hinted at the possibility of Smith moving on.

"We're going through the whole process. Steve's had a great career. He really has. None of us are here forever," Gettleman said. "But that's not to say -- he's part of the evaluation process. That's just the way it is."

Smith was asked after the 49ers knocked the Panthers out of the playoffs if he planned to return in 2014. He made it clear then -- and doubled down when he tweeted about adding a "Sr." to his jersey next season -- that he would be back for at least one more year.

So if Smith is planning on coming back but Gettleman is contemplating the idea of him not being with the Panthers, something's got to give. Smith is due some pretty hefty cash over the next two years after signing an extension in 2012.

But you'd think that if anything happens it would be some sort of restructuring, if only because Carolina really can't afford to lose Smith. They're paper thin at wideout behind Smith thanks to Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon heading into free agency. Only Brandon LaFell has real experience producing for Carolina.

The cap is a major issue for the Panthers, though, so anyting's on the table. Gettleman made that abundantly clear with his comments on Smith.

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