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Steve Smith asked for release from Panthers

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All eyes will be on Steve Smith during the "Goggle Game" at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore this afternoon.

The Ravens receiver has spoken plenty since the Carolina Panthers released him this past offseason. During Week 1, Smith went on an expletive-filled, post-touchdown rant wherein he said anyone who thinks he can't play will find out in Week 4.

Well, we've made it to Week 4.

Smith clearly believes the franchise for which he holds multiple records thought he could no longer play at a high level.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport said on NFL GameDay Morning on Sunday that Smith's personal narrative isn't true.

According to Panthers sources, the team did not cut Smith because he couldn't play anymore. They expected this kind of performance from him and never questioned whether he still could do it on the field, per Rapoport.

The reason the Panthers ultimately cut the former face of the franchise was because they decided to go younger and cheaper at that position. Additionally, there was fear within the organization that Smith would continue to be a divisive force in the locker room, particularly with quarterback Cam Newton.

According to Rapoport, after Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said at the NFL Scouting Combine the team was evaluating Smith's roster spot, the receiver asked for his release and refused a pay cut. When the Panthers failed in an endeavor to trade the veteran their hands were forced and they cut him, per Rapoport.

Panthers players were asked to not comment much on Smith this week. Even when DeAngelo Williams wore goggles at his locker this week, the running back was coy and vague.

The Panthers didn't want to add to Smith's personal bulletin board and give him extra motivation.

Newsflash: Smith doesn't need it.

Whether or not they cut him because he was old, unproductive or Carolina feared disruption won't matter once the whistle blows. It only matters what Smith believes.

All the motivation the wideout needs is already between his ears.

Does anyone know if the vendors at the stadium are selling goggles? We might need some.

We preview and pick every Week 4 game in the latest Around The NFL Podcast.

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