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Steve Smith’s agent says receiver has played his final snap with the Panthers

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After 13 amazing seasons where he made 836 receptions for 12,197 yards (good for 19th all-time) and 67 touchdowns in the team’s uniform, it looks like Steve Smith’s illustrious career as a member of the Carolina Panthers may be coming to an end.

Derrick Fox, Smith’s agent, told the Associated Press that although he does not know how it will all play out, there’s no doubt in his mind that Smith will not be in a Panthers uniform next season: “[Smith] is not going to play for the Panthers next year, I know that. I just don’t know when that transaction is going to take place.”

Smith turns 35 in May and carries a $7 million cap hit. Even though the Panthers are thin at wide receiver, Fox has indicated that the team has not asked to restructure his contract so his release is likely. Releasing Smith will only save the team $2 million, according to reports.

What has drawn the ire and frustration of Fox is that Smith signed a three-year extension with the Panthers in 2012 as a sign of loyalty to the team with the presumption it meant he would be able to finish his career with the organization.

“Where we are disappointed is the fact he signed an extension to stay loyal to the club and complete his career as a Panther,” Fox said. “That is why we did the long-term team deal. Now we are at a crossroads where the Panthers don’t want him anymore.”

Fox says his job now is to make sure his client lands with the team that will appreciate Smith for what he is: A fiery competitor who can still play the game at a high level.

“It’s my responsibility to find the best place for him to utilize his skills and passion for the game,” he said.

In this era of the NFL, there is no loyalty, one way or the other. But it nevertheless is disappointing that a player who meant so much to a team rarely can finish his career with that organization. Smith is simply another casualty of the salary cap era and the cutthroat nature of the NFL.

I guess it means that the wide receiver will have to add “SR” to the name on his jersey with another team. Something tells me that if his agent can swing it, Smith would love nothing more than to sign on with another NFC South team so he could face the Panthers twice a season and inflict a little payback on the team that appears to be casting him aside.

Smith has been on Twitter the past few days addressing the belief that his time in Carolina has come to an end.

On Tuesday, Smith tweeted his amusement over how Panthers fans have created a “Save Steve Smith” shirt:

And on Wednesday, Smith took to Twitter, essentially accepting the inevitability of it all, but also to stress his NFL career is far from over.

Doesn’t make much sense to doubt him at this point.

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