Carolina Panthers: WR Steve Smith Sr.
The franchise’s first contest took place in 1995. So, it’s pretty understandable that the Carolina Panthers don’t have a “primary” representative in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Outside linebacker Kevin Greene had a stint with the team from 1996 and 1998-99. But he’s more known for his days with the Los Angeles Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Linebacker Sam Mills (1995-97) and defensive end Reggie White (2000) spent time with the club as well.
So. when will wide receiver/kick returner Steve Smith Sr. get the call? He walked away from the game after the 2016 season and his contributions were impressive in 13 years with Carolina and three seasons more with the Baltimore Ravens. As for the Panthers, he is the franchise’s all-time leader in catches (836), receiving yards (12,197) and total touchdowns (75). He was a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, all with Carolina. His 16-year NFL resume adds up to 19,180 total combined yards and 89 touchdowns in 219 regular-season contests with the two franchises.
Smith’s playoff accomplishments can’t be overlooked as well. In 11 playoff contests with the Panthers and Ravens, he amassed 1,160 total combined yards and reached the end zone 11 times as a receiver (9), runner (1) and punt returner (1).
As for the not-too-distant future, you will be hearing plenty about defensive end/outside linebacker Julius Peppers in September. Meanwhile, five-time All-Pro middle linebacker Luke Kuechly retired after the 2019 season and will be first-time eligible in 2025.