When the Carolina Panthers released Steve Smith last week, there seemed to be a common sentiment that it was for more than just financial reasons.
In a nutshell: Panthers GM Dave Gettleman was going in a different direction, and Steve Smith didn’t fit into those plans. Smith was viewed as immature and a distraction, he was sent packing.
Gettleman’s handling of the situation has been highly criticized, and for good reason.
Ravens fans know as well as any fan base, football is a business. There are often moves made during the offseason that are tough to deal with. Whether it’s been Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Kelly Gregg or Anquan Boldin (just to name a few), sometimes decisions are made that don’t make a lot of sense at the time, but are in the best interest of a team’s long term goals.
The handling of Steve Smith in Carolina serves as an example of what a first class organization the Ravens are. While many tough decisions have been made, and many key players have been released, you’ll have a hard time finding an ex Raven who has a single bad word to say about Ozzie Newsome or the Ravens. As a matter of fact almost all of them would do nothing but sing their praises.
However, ask any Panthers fan – or Steve Smith himself – how he feels about Dave Gettleman or the way the Smith situation was handled and you’re likely to hear something different.
While Gettleman may have not liked Steve Smith’s attitude, he now has receivers on his roster who have caught a total of two passes in their NFL careers. With the market now looking pretty thin, it’s hard to see how he comes out of this looking like he had a smart plan all along.
Also, whatever his perception of Smith’s attitude was, he was likely basing that on his entire thirteen year career. The problem? Steve Smith in 2014 is much different than Steve Smith in 2008. Anyone who has a pulse of the Panthers organization would tell you this.
The last few days should serve as reassurance to any concerned Ravens fan that Smith has greatly matured over the last few years. He’s done nothing but do and say the right things off the bat, and certainly has realistic expectations for what type of role he foresees himself playing with the Ravens.
Shortly after signing he said he sees himself playing more of a complementary role in the Ravens offense. He compared himself to Kevin Walter in Gary Kubiak’s offensive system from Houston.
“I see how he contributed and how he was instrumental in getting Andre the ball but also getting his own opportunities” he said.
That certainly doesn’t sound like a prima donna who will throw a hissy fit if he’s not getting 10 targets a game.
Smith is also a father of three, with his fourth child on the way. He recently said he wants to go by Steve Smith Sr. as he has plans to name his son Steve Jr. Word is that anyone close to Smith will tell you his priorities have changed. While he is still a fiery, passionate football player and a leader in the locker room, he is also a family man and he’s matured greatly both on and off the field in recent years.
The way the Panthers front office handled Smith’s situation was unprofessional. Panthers fans aren’t happy, and neither is Smith. While he’s ready to turn the page to the next phase of his career, it will most definitely serve as motivation for him to prove to the Panthers they made a mistake.
That’s great news for the Ravens and their fans.