We've covered at fairly decent length the saga of Steve Smith and the inevitable conclusion of him playing football somewhere other than Carolina next season. (The hottest rumor? The Chargers.)
But maybe we're all just jumping on our conclusion mats a bit early; Panthers coach Ron Rivera says, according to Joe Pearson of the Charlotte Observer, it's "not a foregone conclusion" that Smith is headed out of town next year.
"We had a great conversation. He was honest. He was forthright," Rivera said. "He did kind of leave me at a point where I was wondering exactly where does he want to go with this? I will wait until we sit down and talk when the time comes."
Hmmm. That last little bit doesn't sound quite as sure as the "not a foregone conclusion" part.
In fact, Rivera almost seems to be using the phrase as a nice way of saying "It's only a 99-percent chance that he's gone" rather than advising people to assume that Smith will leave.
|Smith's Saga in Charlotte|
He has to do that though, because Smith's under contract through the 2012 season, and if it's painfully obvious that he both sides want him gone, it's much more difficult to get good value in a trade.
That being said, there are plenty of teams who could use Smith's talent and unique skillset -- the Chargers actually really stand out in that category -- and once the lockout's lifted, it sure does seem like Smith will essentially be considered in the same category as "free agents."
He just has the added bonus of not needing a new contract before the season starts.
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