Steve Smith didn’t want to talk about his future Wednesday because he was at Jordan Gross’ retirement press conference to talk about his long-time teammate.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera didn’t have much to say about Smith’s future because the team is still going through its evaluation process.
While Smith’s career in Carolina is still unclear, it is clear the team is trying to figure out how big of a role the most tenured Panther will play for the team in 2014.
“We’ve got a lot to go through. A lot of things have changed,” Rivera said, referring to Gross’ retirement. “We’ve got free agency that’s coming up that we’ve got to look at as well. There’s a lot of things that are really going to be there that are really going to make some things tough for us. How big a role he has for us is to be determined. We’ve got a lot of things to decide.”
The Panthers have not formally discussed Smith’s role with the receiver since general manager Dave Gettleman addressed the media at the NFL combine. There, he said “none of us are here forever.”
Rivera said he expects the evaluation process to continue through early next week.
In an interview with WBT Radio, Smith said he was “surprised” by what he heard from Gettleman and Rivera last week in Indianapolis.
“I would have wished that I would have been afforded the opportunity been given a heads up by our GM and coach Rivera when I did my exit meeting,” Smith said. “No one spoke to me about it, in that manner. The unfortunate part of it was I had to hear it second-hand; I didn’t get to hear it behind closed doors or face-to-face. I heard it through third party or through the internet. That part, to be honest and transparent, is a little discouraging.”
Should the Panthers cut Smith, they would owe him about $5 million in guaranteed money and would take a $2 million cap hit.
Smith caught 64 passes for 745 yards and four touchdowns in 2013. His 11.6 yards per reception was his lowest since 2007.