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Report: Panthers GM views WR Steve Smith as a distraction

By Ryan Wilson |

Was Steve Smith a distraction in Carolina? (USATSI)
Was Steve Smith a distraction in Carolina? (USATSI)

More NFL offseason: Mock Drafts | Prospect Rankings | Pro Days | Top free agents

Here's what we know: Steve Smith is very passionate. So much so that it often infuriates opponents. But it appears that passion has backfired because the Panthers -- and general manager Dave Gettleman, in particular -- are ready to move on from the Steve Smith experience.

The feeling appears to be mutual, and Smith even tweeted out his love for Panthers nation.

But according to the Charlotte Observer's Joe Person, Gettleman's decision to move on from Smith wasn't solely because the wideout will be 35 next month, or that he'll count $7 million against the cap in 2014.

Sources told Person that Gettleman views Smith as a distraction, and the GM is ready to turn the locker room over to young leaders like Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly. Moreover, Person added, "Smith's fiery personality has made him a fan favorite, but can grate on teammates and coaches."

Smith also seems like he has no problem holding a grudge. Which means that he could look to play for a team that faces the Panthers next season -- the Ravens and Chargers do, and they're both reasonable landing spots for Smith.

(There's no question Smith would flourish in Baltimore; Derrick Mason looked like a Hall of Famer playing with Joe Flacco. We'd imagine Smith would be much more dangerous in an offense that features Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta. Not surprisingly, Smith's agent thinks his client has plenty left in the tank.)

“If any NFL pro scout thinks that Steve Smith cannot play at a high level in this game, that's the fuel that's driven Steve for 13 years in this business to high levels,” agent Derrick Fox said Wednesday, apparently in reference to Gettleman, who was once a scout with the Giants.

As for where Smith might be right now, sources suggest NFL Network headquarters.

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