x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Steve Smith is in no rush to change his location

The four-time Pro Bowl pick addresses speculation about his future after it was revealed that his home in Charlotte, the base of the Carolina franchise, is on the market.

Steve Smith breaks a tackle against Cleveland.
Steve Smith breaks a tackle against Cleveland.

Yes, Steve Smith, the Carolina Panthers receiver, has put his house up for sale. Yes, he has had a chat with Jerry Richardson, the Panthers owner.

It does not mean he wants to play at a different address next season. At least not yet.

The four-time Pro Bowl pick addressed speculation about his future on Tuesday after it was revealed that his home in Charlotte, the base of the Carolina franchise, is on the market.

The 31-year-old Smith is the oldest position player on the team after an off-season roster overhaul left the Panthers (2-12) wallowing with the worst record in the NFL.

Smith has been held to 43 catches for 537 yards and two touchdowns - the last coming 12 weeks ago - and is on pace for his worst statistical season in a year in which he has been healthy.

"As far as my contract, I'm getting ready for Pittsburgh and then Atlanta," said Smith, whose team play the Steelers today.

"Then I will discuss with my wife and my children like I do everything else - like I put my house on the market."

Smith said that decision was made "because of the addition that we were thinking about adding to our family."

He said that his house has been for sale since June, long before the Panthers began their poor season.

Smith is under contract through 2012, but it has been suggested he might want to be traded to a contender if the Panthers begin a long rebuilding process.

John Fox, the Panthers coach, is in the last year of his contract and the Panthers almost certainly will have a new coach next season.

"Am I concerned about my contract? No," Smith said. "Am I looking forward to the end of the year? Actually, not. But I'm not really focusing on next year."

With no reliable No 2 receiver and shoddy quarterback play, the Panthers have become the NFL's lowest-scoring team and worst passing offence. The fiery Smith's frustrations boiled over as recently as December 12, when he lashed out at struggling Jimmy Clausen, the rookie quarterback, saying that the former college football hero "ain't at Notre Dame anymore, that's for sure".

Smith, who has twice been suspended for punching teammates, has maintained a close relationship over the years with Richardson, the owner.

That has continued despite the roster churn and Richardson's key role for the owners in the tense negotiations over a new labour deal.

Smith said recent news that he met with Richardson is nothing unusual and, "We'll always talk, whether I'm an employee here or not. The relationship I have with Mr Richardson is very unique."

Smith declined to say if he discussed his future or the direction of the club in his recent chat with Richardson, the only former player to currently own an NFL team.

"What me and Mr Richardson talk about for the last 10 years will not be said in front of cameras or recorders," Smith said.

"That's an authentic relationship. The kind of guy I am, I don't really talk about things like that because then it waters down what we really have."

Teams all season have assigned two defenders to cover Smith, and they did so again on Sunday when he was held to two catches for 22 yards in a 19-12 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. But as Carolina's poor season reaches a close, Smith insisted he is thinking only about preparing to play the Steelers.

"I'm not really focusing on next year because it's going to be bad weather," Smith said, referring to the game in Pittsburgh.

"For us old folks, that cold weather is going to do us bad. It's going to be a tough, physical game and I've got my teammates counting on me to play ball. I've got a little more on my plate than just next year."