The latest developing topic is that the Panthers would be wise to trade wide receiver Steve Smith for draft picks or younger talent. While some might view this as a sensible franchise decision, I don’t think it’s further from the truth. In the offseason, Carolina unloaded almost all of its veteran depth. With it went leadership, playmakers, and contributors.
What veteran depth do the Panthers have now? Steve Smith and John Kasay. While there are younger guys coming into their own and forming a sense of leadership and taking on responsibility, these two are the remaining strongholds from the team’s only Super Bowl run.
To me, it seems ridiculous to even consider trading Steve Smith for draft picks or a younger player or two. What could the Panthers really expect to get in return for a guy who is sitting out with a high ankle sprain, and whose numbers have been less-than-stellar over the last couple seasons? Coupled with the receiver’s age, I don’t see Carolina making a high return on their investment by trading him.
Given the team’s options, the smartest would be to retain Smith. Once one of the younger receivers steps up his game, it will allow Smith to be more involved in the passing game. Since everyone at the position is a rookie, inexperienced, or new to the team, it will take some time and tweaking. But soon enough the Panthers will have what they’ve been looking for from the receiving core.
On another note, Smith is still a weapon when healthy, and when the quarterback is able to get him the ball. Some players who are considered a “weapon” really aren’t, but Smith is an exception. How many times have we seen what has looked like a breakdown or a dead end, but Smitty finagles his way through, around, or over it? He showed us in Week One he still has the ability to go somersaulting through the air and still make a gain of positive yardage.
As far as Smith’s production, while I did mention that his numbers have been less-than-stellar, that’s also something of an oxymoron. The result of his production has been due in part to poor quarterback play. Nonetheless, Smith still produced and rivaled his numbers from previous seasons.
This cat is here to stay. The franchise owes it to him. Some would say that the franchise owes Smith a trade to a winning team. But why? Smitty hasn’t asked to be traded. He also hasn’t hinted at wanting to be traded — if Smith wanted to be traded, he would have already come out and said it. He is a man who doesn’t mince words or hint around.
Be sure to check out Eric’s latest submission on the Carolina Panthers at NFL.com.
Follow Cat Crave on Twitter @THECatCrave.