Just days after I suggested doing so here, the Panthers have extended star WR Steve Smith. Between the time the signing was announced and the time terms were announced, I guessed 6 years, $44 million based on market contracts - Smith signed for 6 years, $45 million.
Extending Smith is a very smart move, especially after making Smith the undisputed receiver on this team. Not that Keyshawn Johnson was the threat Smith is, but the up and coming youth of the team certainly isn't, and Smith is thrust in more of a leadership role as well.
Now the team needs to turn to Julius Peppers, lock that deal up, and possibly toward Jordan Gross. Peppers, undoubtedly, deserves the megadeal he will inevitably sign; it's hard to gauge Gross' value to the team or his value versus mediocre linemen signing huge deals. Leonard Davis, for instance, signed for $7.1 milion this offseason; Davis wasn't anywhere near the player he should've been and isn't at all dominant.
Neither is Gross, though; while he rarely gives up big sack numbers at any point, he routinely gives up too much space. While working with Jeff Davidson and new OL coach Dave Magazu might help, it's largely a function of his leg strength and it seems Gross just isn't the type player the Panthers thought he'd be with a top ten pick. Whether the team feels as if that's true or not, of course, is the gauge on which Gross would get re-signed, and it's not certain he gets re-signed this year (or at all).