On Thursday, Pro Football Talk reported the NFC South team elected to exercise the 2019 option on Smith's contract. According to Spotrac, the option was for $5 million and had to be exercised by next Thursday.
While Smith had just 17 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns during the 2018 campaign, depth at wide receiver was something of a concern for the Panthers with Devin Funchess becoming a free agent this offseason.
What’s more, Funchess saw his numbers drop across the board from 2017 (63 catches for 840 yards and eight touchdowns) to 2018 (44 catches for 549 yards and four touchdowns), so it is reasonable to think the Panthers wanted to keep Smith as an insurance policy if that trend continues even if they do ultimately bring Funchess back.
He is also a proven performer even if he struggled statistically in his first season with Carolina.
The Maryland product topped 750 receiving yards in each of his first four years, including a 1,128-yard performance in 2013 with the Ravens, and is a playoff-tested presence in the locker room. He will look to help lead the Panthers back to the postseason after they were just 7-9 in 2018.