Steve Smith seemed like the one star without a long term deal, and now that’s covered. Carolina signed Smith to a three year extension, announced today with a press conference.
The deal also essentially guarantees what Smith and the Panthers decided last offseason – that they’d stick together instead of go separate ways. The star WR, with the team since its low point in 2001, has more or less charted his success, and with it, the team’s – his best years have often been the team’s, not because the team was always good, but because he helped lift them there (2008, the run game certainly did its part). With that said, there’s definitely a correlation between Smith’s success and a QB who’ll throw it deep, and he has that in spades with Cam Newton. Smith was at one point on pace to not only eclipse his best year of 2005, but to beat the yardage total of Jerry Rice – at one point looking to be on pace to go for 1,850 yards. Smith won the receiving Triple Crown in 2005, with the most receptions/yards/touchdowns.
There’s also a little worry on my part about terms – Smith was already making a $10.7 million cap divot, and that’s before the newer deals by other WR – like Vincent Jackson’s 11 million per year. Clearly, it’d have been more risky a year ago, but Smith’s value would be much better right now had he signed a year ago.
Speaking of which, it seems the team is intent on re-signing Jonathan Stewart, regardless of Deangelo Williams being one of the highest paid Panthers and having just picked up Mike Tolbert. Outside of Stewart, there aren’t any high profile Panthers without a long term contract (next would likely be whoever steps up at, say, WR). I guess, you’re on deck, Stewie.