Steve Smith tweets: 'I will always love you Panthers nation'

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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.

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.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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