It wasn’t long ago that it seemed Steve Smith, the most prolific Panther in the history of the team , had played his last game in Carolina. He was coming off of his worst statical season in the past six years, catching only 46 balls and scoring only two touchdowns, both of which were career lows and was rumored to be asking out of Carolina.
It was obvious that he wasn’t happy. You could see it on the field and could tell when Smith was interviewed. Smith is a gamer, he hates to lose, may be one of the most competitive players in the league and at some points he lets his emotions get the best of him.
But there is no doubting his talent and when rumors were flying early in the offseason about Smith wanting a trade I was worried. Smith’s house was put up for sale and he had cleaned out his locker after the last game of the season. It was even said that Smith had personally asked team owner Jerry Richardson to be traded.
So I got to thinking about how bad the Panthers offense would be without Smith. He helps in every aspect of it. He is the go to receiver and only serious threat in the receiving corps, he frees up other guys by constantly drawing double and even triple teams and he keeps the secondary from cheating up to stop the run.
But even so, it seemed like Smith was unhappy and wanted out no matter what. He was sick of the things that were going on during John Fox’s final years and wanted a fresh start somewhere.
But who would have though that fresh start would be in Carolina. Because that is just what has happened when Richardson and GM Marty Hurney overhauled the team, including the coaching staff.