Steve Smith adds to mystery about future

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
4:45
PM ET

Wide receiver Steve Smith could have put to rest any mystery about his future with the Carolina Panthers during a Thursday interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

He didn’t.

Instead, he added to it.

Smith
Smith talked to Anderson while serving as a guest analyst for Clemson’s Pro Day. She asked specifically about his meeting with general manager Dave Gettleman on Tuesday to discuss why the organization has been so vague about him returning.

Smith avoided specifics.

“Here’s all I have to say about it,” the team’s all-time leading receiver said. “I am working out and doing all the things as I am a Carolina Panther. That’s where I am. And I’ll continue to move forward until I am told otherwise.”

Asked if he could see himself playing for another organization in 2014, Smith was equally evasive.

“It’s a business and I understand that, and ultimately decisions aren’t up to me,” the 13-year veteran said. “I’m a player. At the end of the day, if a team decides to move on, I have to either accept that or I go sit at home and cry about it. So we’ll see.”

If the Panthers are going to move on, Smith will be either released or traded soon. Teams can begin talking to representatives of free agents from other teams on Saturday and begin signing them on Tuesday.

Smith is the only one of Carolina’s top four wide receivers from 2013 under contract. Without him, the Panthers would have to secure a veteran free agent as well as use one of their top two or three draft picks on a receiver.

With Smith and his $7 million salary cap number, the Panthers don’t have much flexibility in going after free agents such as Sidney Rice, Hakeem Nicks and Devin Hester, to name a few.

Smith turns 35 in May. Regardless of what happens this season, the Panthers have to secure his replacement for the future. That part Smith seems to understand even more after his talk with Gettleman, who brought the receiver’s future into doubt when he said Smith was under evaluation at the combine.

“Like every offseason they are making moves and making decisions that are going to be, moving forward, for the betterment of the team,” Smith said “Those decisions and those conversations, I don’t know all of them. I’m not in the meeting rooms. But we talked about some things. And what we talked about it is what we talked about.”

Smith could have ended all speculation and said Gettleman assured him he would be on the Carolina roster in 2013.

He didn’t.

That leads me to believe there’s a better than 50 percent chance that Smith won’t be back at Carolina. Then again, Smith likes to play head games with the media, so maybe this is one of those times.

Either way, the mystery continues.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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