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After reports surfaced that the Carolina Panthers’ star receiver had cleaned out his locker and his family’s luxury suite at Bank of America Stadium, rumors flew that Smith had requested a trade.
Smith has since come forward, saying the claims were false and illustrated a trade is not what he asked for. Rather, he said he discussed with the team his desire to be placed in a competitive situation.
It’s a patient suggestion from the team’s four-time Pro Bowler.
In the 10 years since Smith was drafted by the Panthers, the team has had just three winning seasons (only four since their inaugural season in 1995, plus three .500 seasons overall). In those 10 years, Smith has lead the team in receiving yards in all but his rookie season in 2001, as well as 2004 when he suffered a season-ending back injury in Week 1.
With the first overall selection of Auburn star Cam Newton in April’s draft, it seems the Panthers are doing all they can to provide Smith with the competitive situation he craves.
It seems senseless, too, for a team with drastic need of a rebuild to willingly unload their best offensive player so prematurely. In addition to mere veteran leadership, NFL.com’s Steve Wyche pointed out the benefits of Carolina keeping Smith on the team.
“Smith still commands double teams and with him taking attention off the running game and tight end Jeremy Shockey, Newton could stand a better chance.”
The cost of dealing Smith simply outweighs the return.