Panthers finally get an extension right

When it comes to extending or not extending player’s contracts, the Carolina Panthers front office, mainly Marty Hurney, hasn’t done the best job over the past few years.

However, for the first time in a very long time, I can say with 100% certainty that Hurney got this one right when he extended wide receiver Steve Smith yesterday. Smith signed a three-year extension, almost guaranteeing that the lifelong Panther will retire a Panther.

But before we talk about Smith’s legacy as a Panther and why this was the right move let’s rehash a few of Hurney’s not so good moves.

The one that comes to mind first and seems to stand out as the worst of Hurney’s moves was extending longtime starting quarterback Jake Delhomme. Technically Delhomme is still being paid by the Panthers after he signed a five year, $42.5 million dollar extension heading into the 2010 season. This extension followed Delhomme’s worst performance as a Panther in the 2009 NFC Wildcard game, in which he was responsible for six turnovers in the Panthers 33-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Another questionable extension from Hurney was the signing up running back DeAngelo Williams to a five-year, $43 million dollar extension this past offseason. Don’t get me wrong I love Williams and how well he runs but he has some mileage on him. In college at Memphis, Williams set the all-time NCAA career rushing record. He has since become the Panthers all-time leading rusher, rushing the ball 996 times in six seasons with the team.

That is a lot of mileage on the 28 year old’s legs and body. Not to mention the fact that the Panther’s already had Jonathan Stewart, a younger and some argue better running back under contract.  Using the money that was given to Williams to address a few other team needs instead of resigning him would have been a lot better way to invest, in my opinion.

But enough with the negatives of Hurney and back to the resigning of Smith. Steve Smith is everything that is the Carolina Panthers. For the Past 11 seasons, since Smith was drafted out of Utah, the young fiery wide receiver has given it everything he has on every single play. He is one of the most exciting players in the NFL and has set almost every single Carolina Panthers receiving record.

He deserves this extension and the chance to retire a Panther. He has been here through the great times with the Panthers, the 2003 Super Bowl Season and then the worst times for the Panthers, the 2010 season, or as I like to call it the year of the Jimmy.

Sure he will be 33 when this upcoming season starts but Smith showed last season that he still has more than enough in the tank to keep playing. He finished last year with 79 catches, 1,394 yards, seven touchdowns and a Pro Bowl appearance. And that was just his first season with rookie quarterback Cam Newton. Think what will be possible between these two guys with a full season and offseason under their belts.

When you think Carolina Panthers for the last ten seasons, you most likely think of Smith. Sure he has had some rough patches along the way, a few fights with teammates, asking for a trade following the 2010-2011 season but all in all he has been everything the Panthers have needed.

He has been the catalyst for the Panthers offense and has done it pretty much all by himself.  For me, Smith is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the Panthers and I am ecstatic knowing that he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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Taylor Barbour is contributing writer for Cat Crave and former editor of the site, follow him on twitter for the latest Carolina Panther and NFL news @TaylorBarbour

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