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Panthers agree to release Steve Smith Thursday

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Was Steve Smith a distraction in Carolina? (USATSI)
The Panthers will reportedly cut Steve Smith on Thursday. (USATSI)

The inevitable outcome to the Steve Smith-Panthers saga is drawing to an end. The Panthers will release him on Thursday, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports.

Bill Voth of the Sports Xchange first reported that the Panthers will release Smith on this, the third day of free agency, ending the wide receiver's 13-year run with the franchise.

Smith's been sparring with the front office this offseason, ever since GM Dave Gettleman said at the combine that he was part of the evaluation process and that "none of us are here forever."

The Panthers tried to trade Smith, but that's usually just a precursor for releasing a veteran. The notion of Smith's departure was a little more set in stone when his agent made things clear, saying Smith "is not playing for the Panthers" in 2014.

Smith then tweeted his goodbyes to "Panthers nation" on Wednesday, setting the stage for a release on Thursday.

Gettleman reportedly views him as a distraction and it's hard not to understand why given how things have unfolded this offseason. It hasn't been smooth sailing for 89 as the Panthers chapter in his career comes to a close.

It's very much the end of an era though:

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