There are certain things we see coming before a popular, veteran player is released. One is the trade rumors. Steve Smith's got that covered. (Technically, the Panthers do, but you get the point.) And the other is the goodbye tweets from the player.
You can mark those off Smith's checklist too.
I will always be a Carolina panther No contract can ever change that CLT is my home and will always be my home... I love you #panthernation— Steve Smith (@89SteveSmith) March 12, 2014
As we noted when quoting Smith's agent -- who says there's no chance that Smith plays for the Panthers in 2014 -- this saga is winding towards it's inevitable, ugly conclusion.
Smith will eventually get released by Carolina and there will be fan backlash. That backlash will simmer for a bit until he spitefully signs somewhere like Tampa Bay and could get pretty ugly if the Panthers don't sign some players in free agency to fill the void at wide receiver they're facing.
It's hard to imagine Steve Smith in a different uniform, but it's going to happen.