The Panthers have officially announced they’ve released Steve Smith:
The #Panthers have released WR Steve Smith.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) March 13, 2014
The Panthers drafted Steve Smith in the third-round (74th overall) of the 2001 draft out of Utah. Smith spent his entire 13-year career with the Panthers and leaves the team with more than 30 career, single-season and single-game records.
He is the Panthers all-time leader in touchdowns (75), receptions (836) and receiving yards (12,197).
Here’s the statement from Dave Gettleman on the release:
When I took this position I knew that difficult decisions would have to be made along the way. To move on from a storied veteran player is probably the most difficult of all. A decision not to be taken lightly. However, after much thought I feel very strongly it’s the right one.
As I’ve stated many times, all decisions I make will be in the long-term best interest of the Carolina Panthers. Decisions, either popular or unpopular, have to be made for the greater good, and it is imperative to take an unemotional global view.
Sometimes it may appear that short-term interests will suffer, and I can assure you we have no interest in taking a step back from our 2013 accomplishments. Nevertheless, like all NFL teams, we are in transition as we try to get into the best position going forward. When Mr. Richardson hired me I promised him that my goal would be to leave the Panthers in a better position than when I came. All my efforts are in that vein.
Over the next few months we will have the opportunities afforded by free agency and the college draft to improve our roster. We also have young players who will get an opportunity. I have great trust in our evaluation process.
Steve had a wonderful career with the Carolina Panthers. I truly wish him and his wife, Angie, all of God’s blessings.