The recent retirement of Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross brought head coach Ron Rivera to the podium. The NFL beat reporters in the audience did the rest.
When Rivera was asked about wide receiver Steve Smith’s future with the team, he was about as vague as he could possible be.
”A lot of it will have to do with what our situation and circumstances are going to be,” Rivera said about Smith’s future. ”I think as we go forward, just what the role is going to be we’ll see.”
The Panthers are clearly in need of a No. 1 wide receiver, even more so if Smith is allowed to walk. Last year, the team failed to record a 1,000 yard pass catcher as tight end Greg Olsen led the team with 73 receptions and 816 yards.
Smith had 64 catches last year for 745 yards. He is under contract until 2016, but after 13 years in the NFL he may be far enough past his prime that the Panthers are unwilling to keep his $7M cap hit on the books.
The deep draft at the receiver position will certainly play into the situation and circumstances that Rivera is talking about when it comes to Smith.