There's some discontent over in Carolina, as wide receiver Steve Smith is unsure where he stands with the organization. It all started when Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said that Smith "had a great career," and that "none of us are here forever," when speaking at the combine on Thursday.
Smith, a 13-year veteran of the NFL, hasn't played anywhere else throughout his career. He was drafted in the third round of the 2001 NFL Draft and has appeared in five separate Pro Bowls. He's also a three-time All-Pro, but his production did drop off in 2013.
But Smith was concerned that the talk from Gettleman -- specifically the way he referred to Smith as having "had" a great career -- meant that he might not be back in 2014. Smith is under contract through the 2016 season, but is set to have a $7 million cap hit in 2014.
Smith said that it was "discouraging" to hear the comments from Gettleman, and that no one has reached out to him. "To be honest, I have no idea what my future holds," Smith said, as noted by Cat Scratch Reader. They're not happy about the talk, mostly because Smith has meant so much to the organization for so long:
So are we reading too much into this? Gettleman is still new and would see this kind of move as making the tough decisions long-time franchise employees might otherwise hate to make. That is, releasing a long-time fan favorite and PB player before he is ready to retire.
Here's what else you might have missed from Wednesday in the NFL:
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hasn't ever been shy of talking to the media, and he once again spoke on the subject of head coach Jason Garrett on Wednesday. Garrett has been on the hot seat for a couple seasons now, with most assuming he was going to be fired this offseason. Jones was less than clear with his statement however, saying that some people operated differently depending on whether or not they knew they had a check coming, in reference to Garrett's future being uncertain.
Blogging The Boys tries to decipher the phrase exactly, though:
As always, Jerry-speak is open to interpretation, but what the Cowboys owner appears to be saying is that he feels that Jason Garrett does his best work when he is not totally certain what lies ahead. To me, the line that is most revealing is when Jerry says, "he doesn't know if he's going to win the hand when the card turns up or get thrown overboard." That statement seems to be the first notification from the Jones family that Jason Garrett really is coaching for his job this season. The options seem to be clear; win the hand or get tossed overboard.
Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Sam Baker appeared to be the left tackle of the future, but general manager Thomas Dimitroff recently spoke about the possibility of moving him to the right side. Baker is recovering from knee surgery and Dimitroff was being asked if the team might consider moving him depending on how it heals. Dimitroff said that it's good to have a tackle "versatile enough to play both left and right." That answer doesn't divulge a whole lot, but it's an interesting possibility.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner was suspended indefinitely by the NFL for violation of the league's substance abuse policy. He was in the final stage of the NFL's drug program, meaning his suspension is for a year. Now, he's going to sue the NFL for his reinstatement. He already appealed the suspension and lost, and will ask the court to allow Browner to become a free agent and allow him to become eligible to practice and play until the lawsuit is resolved. That certainly doesn't seem likely at this point.
Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is set to become a free agent in 2014, and he's had another great season to add to his long and storied career. The Colts certainly want him back, but they won't be able to use the franchise tag to retain his services. He's been tagged already, in 2002 and 2005, by the New England Patriots, and it sounds like those carry over across the new CBAs. Using the tag again would require paying him like a top-flight quarterback ... and that's not going to happen.