The Panthers have exercised their team option to keep wide receiver Torrey Smith on the roster for 2019, with the two-time Super Bowl champ in the third year of a three-year, $15m contract and due to make $5m in 2019; however, just as it was last year, Smith’s salary is not guaranteed for 2019 and the Panthers can release Smith without penalty during the offseason.
Had the Panthers not exercised this option before March 14, the 30-year old wide receiver would have become a free agent next week when the NFL’s league year opened.
While the Panthers have made it clear that one of their goals this offseason was to get faster and younger – specifically on defense – and they’ve followed through with that missive as they’ve seen the retirement of Ryan Kalil and Julius Peppers along with the moving on of veteran leaders like Thomas Davis, Captain Munnerlyn, and Mike Adams already with free agency opening next week, it’s clear that Smith’s contributions off the field are important. With both DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel under 23 years old, the team clearly likes Smith’s leadership in the locker room; aside from Smith, Greg Olsen is currently the only offensive player above 30 years old on the Panthers roster under contract for the 2019 season.
A nine-year veteran wide receiver, Smith had only 17 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns, but those numbers were certainly affected by a knee injury he suffered during the Panthers’ 21-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles; Smith revealed later in the season that a surgery after Week 6 kept him out until he was pressed back into duty in Week 11 with injuries to other receivers forcing Smith into uniform. After 16 catches for 171 yards the first six games of the season, Smith would only be targeted four times over his final five games of the season.
Smith did not play more than 30% of the snaps in any game after Week 6.