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What trade demand? Panthers' Smith wants competitive team

  • By NFL.com
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Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith broke his silence about his future Tuesday, telling Pro Football Weekly he has not demanded a trade from Carolina, just a competitive situation to play in.

"First of all, have I demanded a trade? I have not demanded a trade," Smith said. "What I have asked for is to be in a competitive situation. I sat down with (Panthers general manager) Marty (Hurney) a lot of times prior to the lockout. I am respected as a veteran amongst the players as well as the front office. So there has been dialogue (about his future in Carolina) prior to the lockout."

In a wide-reaching interview, Smith, who is coming off his least productive season (46 receptions for 554 yards and two touchdowns) since his rookie year, also addressed if he expected to be traded and why he put his house in Charlotte up for sale.

"Do I expect to be traded?" Smith said. "I am not sure what to expect. That's the truth. Could I see a situation where I stay (in Carolina)? In my mind, I have played out every scenario: I could be moved, I could be cut, I could stay or I could be locked out. Honestly, my family and I are prepared for whatever steps are presented in front of us."

Even if that included moving? Trade speculation picked up when Smith recently put his North Carolina house on the market.

"I think it's important that people realize I am not packing my bags," Smith said. "As far as why my house is for sale, we built this huge house and we just don't have any business living in it. It seemed like a great idea, and then we moved into this big house. We started cringing at all that space we had. For me, it was a little bit vain that I have this big house with this big yard. People saw my house was on sale and said it was me sending a message.

"Really the message I sent was to my kids: Dad made a mistake. This isn't how we are supposed to live. This isn't what I should be projecting. If we don't do this now, what incentive do I give my kids to reach for? You make a lot of money and then you go blow it? I don't want to be a statistic. I want to be a good steward."

Smith, who turns 32 on Thursday, also told the publication that he believes he could play five or six more seasons. He has two years remaining on his contract, this season at $7 million and 2012 at $7.75 million.

"As I feel right now, I would like to play as long as there is an opportunity -- and to play with the same passion but with just a little bit of a different perspective," he said. "Less about what somebody can give me and more about what I can offer and what I can bring to the table and improve and help (a team)."

If that's the Panthers remains to be seen. The San Diego Chargers are interested in Smith and are reportedly monitoring the Panthers situation closely.

Smith is certain of one thing -- the Panthers will have a much different look this season regardless of whether he's on their roster or not.

"All the changes that the Panthers organization has made, does it change my feelings towards the team?" Smith said. "I have no ill feelings; I have not changed. I am not upset. I am not mad. Those changes they made, I think they are not small -- they are huge. They are foundational changes. I think it changes the whole attitude, the whole atmosphere."

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