Panthers rookie Newton expresses support for Smith staying

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As the Carolina Panthers try to retain their core group of players -- they agreed to terms with defensive end Charles Johnson on Tuesday -- there remains uncertainty as to whether or not wide receiver Steve Smith will be dealt.

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» Panthers prep Newton | QB opens up

Smith reportedly has asked to be traded, and first-year coach Ron Rivera has said he'll address the receiver's situation once the NFL lockout ends, which it has. But rookie quarterback Cam Newton said he wants Smith, one of the best receivers in the NFL, as his main target.

"Steve, he's extremely credible around the NFL," Newton said in an exclusive interview with NFL.com and NFL Network. "Everybody knows about Steve Smith's situation. I'm going on to say I really want, not just me, but so many people around the organization want Steve back. I don't know how else to put it. I'm about to speak foreign languages to get Steve back.

"After talking to him, working out with him, he's just at crossroads right now. I'll respect him, whatever decision he makes. Hopefully that decision is to stay in Carolina."

The San Diego Chargers reportedly have expressed interest in Smith, who is coming off a down year in which he finished with just 46 receptions for 554 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games.

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