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The Carolina Panthers released wide receiver Steve Smith on Thursday. The Panthers had been trying to trade Smith.
Smith was the Panthers pick in the third round of the 2001 draft. He would have cost the Panthers $7 million under this year’s salary cap. Despite Smith’s release, the Panthers still owe him some of his salary. They owe him $3 million in salary this season, according to the Associated Press.
"It's devastating to hear that you are getting fired, but it's also exciting because that frees me up to be pursued by other teams,'' Smith told Sirius XM’s Bleacher Report Radio. '' I have never become a free agent before so I will get a few free dinners out of it at some nice expensive restaurants. I want to enjoy the experience that, frankly, I will never experience again."
Smith went on to add, “I am no longer a No. 1 wide receiver and I know that. And I've been knowing that, and I don't have a problem with that. I will adjust to whatever team and whatever role that I would have. The only thing is I would like to know what that role is and what the expectation is so I can exceed it."
Smith has been one of the best Panthers players and receivers in the NFL during the last 13 seasons. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season, becoming the first Panther rookie to be selected to the Pro Bowl. Last year, he had 64 receptions for 745 yards and four touchdowns. He is the Panthers all-time leading receiver with 836 receptions for 12,917 yards and 67 touchdowns, according to ESPN.
Smith isn’t the only player that the Panthers lost. They also lost wide receiver Domenik Hixon, who signed with the Chicago Bears on Thursday. It might not be long before Smith signs with a team. The Baltimore Ravens expressed interest in Smith shortly after his release and are the favorites to sign him.