For two days straight, my phone has been blowin up.
A buzz here. A buzz there. A notification here. A notification there. A retweet here. A retweet there. Everywhere a tweet, tweet. It feels like my phone buzzes every other minute. Welcome to the frenzy that is NFL Free Agency.
Donte Whitner. His release HURT!! For real. DeMarcus Ware. Darrelle Revis. Antoine Bethea. Jared Allen. Julius Peppers. LaMarr Woodley. Aqib Talib. T.J. Ward. Karlos Dansby. This would make a nice Pro Bowl roster.
And then, the hammer dropped and everyone in North Carolina and South Carolina heard the news that they did not want to hear, the Carolina Panthers would start training camp in July without all-time leading receiver and arguably the franchise’s most famous cat, Steve Smith. The rumblings began at the NFL Combine when Panthers General Manager, Dave Gettleman, offered a noncommittal response when asked about Smith’s future with the team. Many were stunned by the response including Smith. In 2012, Smith signed a three year extension which many felt would guarantee that Smith would retire as a Panther. That was what Smith wanted and at the time it was what the Panthers wanted. Loyalty seemed to be at the root of the deal as everyone walked away from the table happy. Unfortunately, loyalty does not always rise up from its hole each year. And loyalty does not score touchdowns. And loyalty does not guarantee good seasons. And loyalty does not guarantee championships.
Buzz. 9:05am. Alert from SportsCenter. Panthers to cut WR Steve Smith Thursday, a league source told NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Once Schefter tweets it/says it, you can bank on it.
Wow. I was in Bank of America Stadium to witness Smitty’s last game as a Panther.
This part of the NFL just makes me go ugh. I have dissected this move from many angles. Smith is 34 years old. He is 5’9(not that his height has ever been an issue but short WR’s are becoming less common). He is coming off a knee injury. The Panthers would potentially have to pay him seven million in 2014. They need to get under the salary cap. Yada yada yada. Everyone will scream it is business and move on. To me, I do not believe this is JUST a business move. I think this was personal. Sure we do not know what kind of year Smith may have next year. He may have a horrible year. He may have a great year. He may have even decided to retire. That is just the nature of sports. You can make all the predictions you want but none of us know what will really happen during the year. Right? Or are you trying to tell me you picked Seattle to win the SuperBowl. Anywho, back to Smitty. Regardless of what is going to happen, the Panthers will be paying Smith three million dollars. It is part of the guaranteed money that he got for his extension. So, they essentially saved four million dollars which I hope they use to spend on another wide receiver because I am not sure that Tavarres King, Martin McNutt or R.J. Webb can step in and fill Smith’s void. Oh and did I mention that the four million saved does not really put a dent in the cap space needed.
Perhaps the most telling sign that this is a personal move is the fact that the Panthers never asked Smith to restructure his contract. Let that sink in. Business or personal? You be the judge.
The past two days have been a doozy. I am almost positive that there have never been so many big name players released at one time. For as much as I love the game, I absolutely hate this part of the “business” where feelings have to be separated from reality in order to save dollars. But I have learned to accept it. If the 9ers can trade football royalty in the form of Jerry Rice and Joe Montana then anything is possible. Here is to hoping today is not as hectic. I have work to do and I do not need any distractions!
Until next time…TOODELLS.
Follow me on Twitter @Kassienette
P.S. To Smitty….thank you for your dedication, loyalty and hardwork. As a Panthers fan, it has been a joy to watch you play the past 13 years for the blue and black. May GOD bless you abundantly in your next chapter.