Steve Smith Wants to Retire as a Carolina Panther

Von PaxtonContributor IIIJuly 28, 2011

After an off-season ripe with speculation, Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver has finally spoken out about his future in the NFL. 

"For me, I'm always going to be a Panther," Smith said Thursday from Charlotte. "They took a shot on me when I was coming from nowhere and now I'm going into my 11th year in the league. This will be where I retire, whether that's five years from now or one year from now." Courtesy of ESPN.com

Smith is a four time pro-bowler and one of the most popular, controversial Panthers of all-time. The Panthers horrendous season last year (going 2-14) coupled with Smith putting his house on the market, led to increased speculation that Smith wanted out of Carolina. However, Smith never directly stated that he wanted out of Charlotte. He had remained silent about his future until now.

He met with GM Marty Hurney and coach Ron Rivera and has finally come out and stated his future intentions. Smith has made clear that no matter what, he wants to retire with the only team he's ever played for. 

"People have been speculating about my future for two years now," said Smith, who has two years remaining on his contract. "But I'm going to be here and I'm ready to show people a side of me that they haven't seen. I'm staying in Carolina."

This is good news for a Panthers team who last season finished with the NFL's worst record and finished last or near the bottom of nearly every statistical category. The Panthers have been busy since the lockout ended. Notably, they inked Charles Johnson to a big contract that included a 30 million signing bonus. They were also able to sign Running Back DeAngelo Williams to a deal that included 21 million guaranteed.

This is all good news to the Panthers and their fans who had little reason to be optimistic about the future after the blunders of last season.    

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