5 Carolina Panthers who deserved better throughout franchise history

(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Newton
(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Newton /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Steve Smith /

Steve Smith Sr. – Former Carolina Panthers WR

There is an argument to be made the Carolina Panthers deserved better from Steve Smith. However, the same can be said of the organization that let the franchise player walk.

For a team that has had so few truly great players of Smith’s caliber, letting the relationship boil to the point they allowed the prolific wide receiver to walk and finish his career elsewhere is a travesty.

Yes, Smith may not be the easiest player to appease or get along with. But at the end of the day, this is a business and your franchise player of 13 years being deemed surplus to requirements is a bad look for a franchise that could have benefitted from his presence in the mid-2010s.

Smith was far from done after he left Carolina, putting together three great seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. He was an impact player during the same time the Panthers were competing for a ring.

Perhaps Smith’s production and veteran presence were what was lacking from pushing Carolina over the top of what was a dominant Denver Broncos defense in Super Bowl 50. Regardless of the reasoning, the Utah product deserved to finish his career with the Panthers.

The organization releasing the veteran and not mending fences with a player of his stature cost the team. A decision they can look back on with an enormous sense of regret.