Few veteran playmakers have had more speculation about them this offseason than Carolina’s Steve Smith, and for the first time in a long time the enigmatic wide receiver has weighed in on a whole host of issues.
Smith reached out to Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly and the story is worth of a read. No one knows if the Panthers will bring Smith back for the rebuilding project they’re in the midst of with new head coach Ron Rivera and No. 1 draft pick Cam Newton.
Smith didn’t want to spark controversy and was respectful of the Panthers while denying that he’s demanded a trade. Basically, he’s leaving all options open right now.
“I would rather do it on my terms when I have the ability to,” Smith said. “These people that keep writing these articles, none of them have even spoken to me. What I want to do is be classy and not tip my cards, be respectful to the (Panthers) organization.
“It's not me saying, ‘Yes, I want a trade.’ It's still a family matter, and when my family feels it's the appropriate time, our actions will show how we feel.”
Has Smith asked to be traded?
“I have not demanded a trade,” he said. “What I have asked for is to be in a competitive situation. I sat down with (general manager) Marty (Hurney) a lot of times prior to the lockout. I am respected as a veteran amongst the players as well as the front office. So there has been dialogue (about his future in Carolina) prior to the lockout.
“Do I expect to be traded? Really ... to be honest, I am not sure what to expect. That's the truth. Could I see a situation where I stay (in Carolina)? In my mind, I have played out every scenario: I could be moved, I could be cut, I could stay or I could be locked out. Honestly, my family and I are prepared for whatever steps are presented in front of us.
“Carolina might say, 'You know what? We're going in a different direction and we don't want you to be a part of that process,'" Smith said. "I am a big boy, and I am ready for that possibility.”
Smith’s agent Derrick Fox reiterated that Smith wants a chance to compete for a championship. What should you make out of all of this? It strikes us that Smith is saying all the right things here with the hope that the team gives him what he desires – a landing spot elsewhere. The San Diego Chargers have been mentioned as a possible home for Smith. That would probably suit him perfectly.
Right now, the Panthers will not be able to complain about how Smith has handled himself. That is for certain.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune