The Panthers picked up Smith's contract option for 2019, Max Henson of the Panthers' official site reports. Given his sizable cap hit and minimal 2018 contribution, it's surprising to see Smith keep his place on the roster without accepting a pay cut. The Panthers could change their minds later this offseason, as Smith's 2019 compensation consists solely of a non-guaranteed $5 million base salary, per overthecap.com. The 30-year-old wideout figures to serve as a low-volume deep threat if he stays with the Panthers.
Smith finished the 2018 regular season with 17 catches on 30 targets for 190 yards and two touchdowns across 11 games. Smith inked a three-year, $15 million contract with the Panthers this offseason but failed to deliver much on that substantial investment. In fact, the 29-year-old set career lows in all major receiving categories. It'll be interesting to see whether Carolina decides to bring him back for the 2019 campaign.
Smith caught one of his two targets for a 19-yard gain during Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Falcons. Smith missed a month of the season with a knee injury, but still went three straight games without a catch before Sunday's 19-yarder. The Panthers' attack is hard to read now with Taylor Heinicke taking over for Cam Newton, who has been shut down for the season. Heinicke actually managed to put up 274 passing yards in his first start, 93 of them on quick passes to the backs, but he, Smith, and the rest of Carolina's attack have a tougher test next Sunday against a hot Saints defense that held the Panthers to nine points in Week 15.
Smith played just two snaps and was not targeted in Sunday's 26-20 loss to the Browns. Smith overcame his knee injury to be active Sunday, but he still hardly got to see the field. While his role has shrunk over the course of the campaign, as evidenced by three straight games without a catch, the extra day before Week 15's Monday night meeting against the Saints could do the veteran's knee some good.
Smith (knee) was listed as a full participant at Thursday's practice, Steve Reed of the Associated Press reports. After missing Weeks 8 through 11 while battling the knee issue, Smith has dressed for the last two contests but hasn't drawn a single target while playing a combined 22 offensive snaps. It would appear that Smith is setback-free coming out of those games, but the veteran seems unlikely to see his role expand much over the final quarter of the season with youngsters D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel proving themselves worthy of increased responsibility in the Carolina passing game.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||60||30||453||3||16||15.10||63|