There is a good chance Steve Smith will be traded once the lockout ends. (Photo by John Clark)
CHARLOTTE -- Like many NFL players, wide receiver Steve Smith’s future remains in limbo.
If it hadn’t been for the current NFL lockout, Smith might be playing for another team at this point, but since teams aren’t allowed to trade, players he remains a member of the Carolina Panthers — at least for now.
“It’s frustrating,” Smith said of the NFL lockout.
Smith again avoided direct questions Thursday about whether or not he wants to be traded, although sources have repeatedly told Carolina Growl he’s already expressed his desire to be traded to team management.
“It’s on hold because we’re not even allowed to presume there will be football,” Smith said of his future. “That privilege, and I emphasize privilege, has been taken away. There has been some mud-slinging going on, and people have had a chance to see the business aspect of football.”
Although Smith believes the owners are using the court-ordered stay as a “delay tactic” to “crush” the players, he also believes both sides are at fault for not coming to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.
“I don’t agree with how everybody is handling it,” Smith said. “I’m going to be fair and say I don’t agree with how owners are handling it and I don’t agree with how the trade association is handling it because things could be better. But they are really so far apart.”
The Panthers have done just about everything they can this off-season to convince Smith to stay.
*They hired a new offensive coordinator in Rob Chudzinski, who plans to throw the ball more than past Carolina teams.
*They hired his former college wide receivers coach, Fred Graves, a guy Smith had pushed them to hire in the past, as well former teammate Ricky Proehl as an offensive assistant.
*And, most recently, they drafted quarterback Cam Newton with the No. 1 overall draft pick, giving the team an alternative to Jimmy Clausen, who Smith clashed with last season.
But Smith wouldn’t say if the addition of Newton would influence his decision to stay.
Smith said he was impressed watching Newton at Auburn but said it’s too early to say much about him after meeting him for a few minutes at a kickball game last weekend.
“He looked all of 6-foot-5 or whatever he is, had a smile and he sweat just like the rest of us,” Smith said. “He interacted with his teammates. I can’t dissect that.”
Then, Smith joked, “You know, when he sweats, his sweat went to the left and everybody else’s went to the right… I don’t know.”
As for how Newton, the most athletic quarterback the Panthers have ever employed, will do at the NFL level, Smith said, “In college he was a different type of quarterback, but in this league there is no such thing as a different type of quarterback. You are either a playmaker or you’re not at quarterback.
“And in our conference there are some playmakers, and whether you can run, throw or back-flip, it’s about points. If you’re not the team with the most points at the end of the game, it’s not going to work out for you. You can be the first overall pick or Tom Brady, it’s about winning.”