The Carolina Panthers have been seeking a trade partner for disgruntled wide receiver Steve Smith but can’t wait any longer. Carolina will officially release Smith on Thursday, according to Bill Voth of SportsXchange. Smith will be a designated June 1st cut, which will save the Panthers $1 million in cap space but they’ll also carry over $4 million in dead money to 2015.
“Smitty” holds every relevant receiving record for the franchise and ranks in the Top 25 of receiving yards and catches for the NFL all-time. Even though cutting the still productive Smith won’t save that much money against the cap, the bigger issue here was leadership. General manager Dave Gettleman viewed the receiver as a distraction in the locker room and thinks he’s holding Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly back from emerging as the true leaders of the locker room.
Remember Gettleman was with the New York Giants when running back Tiki Barber retired after making another Pro Bowl and the Giants got better. Why? Because with the absence of Barber, Eli Manning could finally step forward and take the reins of the locker room. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl the next season despite losing arguably their best player. It’s apparent that Gettleman remembers that and wants Newton to finally be the guy in the locker room, like Eli.