After playing his entire NFL career for the Carolina Panthers, wide receiver Steve Smith was cut from the team on Thursday.
The release came as a shock to the 35-year-old veteran, but he won’t let his unexpected release overshadow his time on the team.
"It doesn't change my respect and relationship with the Panthers organization as far as Mr. and Mrs. Richardson and the family," he said via ProFootballTalk. "They've done great things for me as a man and professionally.
Smith was drafted to the Panthers in 2001 and ranks 25th in league receptions with 836 catches and 19th all-time in career receiving yards with 12,197 receiving yards. He also holds more than 30 Panther records, including all of their major receiving marks.
While he was a major factor on the field, Smith had his share of issues with management. He clashed with general manager Dave Gettleman, who felt Smith’s audacious personality was a “distraction” to the team.
“You can't allow an individual or individuals to change how much a corporation or organization has treated me. I won't allow that to happen,” Smith said, hinting at his issues with Gettleman. "I believe my legacy as a Carolina Panther exceeds one individual for a short amount of time.”
Gettleman had been trying to trade Smith since last week, according to insiders. While it is unclear as to Smith’s future in the league, he reportedly visiting the Baltimore Ravens on Friday.
"I want to make sure that whatever team I go to, they're going to get the best, in-shape 35-year-old guy they can get," he said. "Put your goggles on cause there's going to be blood and guts everywhere."
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(Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)