Clock is ticking for Steve Smith, Panthers
At 5’9, Carolina Panthers’ Steve Smith was overlooked from the beginning. A third-round pick back in 2001, he’s lived the ups and downs with the Panthers for 12 seasons now. Seven of those seasons he’s accounted for at least 1,000 yards , but the end is near.
Coming off one of his worst seasons, rookie Cam Newton helped revive Smith in 2011. Targeted 129 times he ended the season with 1,394 receiving yards, his best total since 2008. Many expected Newton and Smith to come out firing on all cylinders in 2012, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, the Panthers struggled early in 2012, as did Cam Newton. As the team struggled so did Smith. He became frustrated with losing and started hinting it may be time to call it quits.
His frustrations went in spurts much like his production. He was held without a touchdown until Week 9 and was held under 100 yards receiving the span of four games twice during the season. Sure, his final numbers are still impressive (1,174 yards receiving, 4 touchdowns), but for those unaware, Steve Smith plays with pure emotion. Playing with your heart on your sleeve for 12 seasons can take its toll, especially when expectations weren’t met.
When interviewed by Panthers Insider Mike Craft, Smith had this to say when asked how anxious he was to get to 2013, “Uhh not very anxious right now. Just kinda taking some time to ah rest. Ah you now older guys. Start looking at my opportunities ah, as things kinda dwindle down. You know ah, we believe we can play forever, but uh realistically uh that’s a fantasy.”
He’s right. It is a fantasy, but Steve Smith isn’t going out like Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson. Smith has at least one good season left in him and if the Panthers address the position during free agency it may extend his time even more. After all, isn’t that what Panthers fans want?
Stats provided by NFL.com