The Carolina Panthers’ all-time leader in receptions (836), receiving yards (12,197) and touchdowns (67) will be playing football in another city next season.
ICONSmith caught 64 passes for 745 yards and six scores in 15 games last season.
13-year NFL veteran and five-time Pro Bowler Steve Smith was released by the Panthers on Thursday, a move the team announced shortly thereafter. Smith was due a base salary of $4.0 million in 2014 while carrying a salary cap number of $7.0 million.
"Steve Smith has been one of the NFL's finest receivers for over a decade and has been the face of the franchise for a large part of the team's history," said general manager Dave Gettleman. "This was not an easy decision. As a team, we made a step forward last year; however, we are also a team in transition, which is a part of the NFL."
Smith is now free to sign with any team in the league, with the Baltimore Ravens expected to get involved in the bidding war.
The transaction leaves the Panthers with Tavarres King, Marvin McNutt and Kealoha Pilares as the team’s starting receivers, which means that if Carolina can’t land former New York Giant Hakeem Nicks via free agency, the team will likely use the draft to bolster quarterback Cam Newton’s arsenal.
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