Five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith was cut this past summer after 13 seasons with the Carolina Panthers, a move that is coming back to haunt the team big time.
After being cut, Smith signed a 3-year, $US10.5 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens and will make $US4.5 million this season including his $US3.5 million signing bonus.
But more importantly, the Panthers are still paying Smith $US5 million this season while he is scoring touchdowns for the Ravens, touchdowns the Panthers could really use right now.
So far this season, Smith has caught 53 passes for 817 yards and five touchdowns.
After cutting Smith, the Panthers signed veteran Jerricho Cotchery, who has just 32 catches for 433 yards and has no touchdowns. The Panthers did draft rookie Kelvin Benjamin who has caught 52 passes for 768 yards and eight touchdowns.
Now, the Panthers are just 3-7-1 and quarterback Cam Newton is having the worst season of his career without his trusty veteran receiver.
If the Panthers had just one more win, they would be in first place in the woeful NFC South and would have a good shot at the playoffs.
Cutting Smith did save the Panthers some money. If the Panthers had kept Smith, they would have paid him $US5 million, but there would have been an addition $US2 million in a future guaranteed bonus. In addition, he would have counted as $US7 million against the salary cap this season instead of $US5 million.
But looking back now, the Panthers probably wish they spent the extra $US2 million for Smith’s leadership and production as it could mean the difference between making the playoffs or staying home.
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