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Steve Smith committed to team, Charlotte with new contract

Panthers' wide receiver Steve Smith expects to finish his career where it began -- just like he predicted 11 years ago.

Smith, who turns 33 in May, signed a contract extension Tuesday that will likely keep him in Carolina at least through 2015 and likely for the remainder of his career.

A source with knowledge of the situation told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that Smith will earn approximately $18 million in guaranteed money over the next three seasons. There is also a club option for the 2016 season.

During a press conference Tuesday Smith said it cements the promise he made to general manager Marty Hurney in 2001 prior to signing his first contract.

"I told Marty I would be the best Panther player ever to put on a uniform," Smith said.

Although Smith later qualified that remark by saying he believes former linebacker Sam Mills is the best Carolina player ever, it's hard to argue that Smith hasn't been the most productive offensive player.

Smith has caught 699 passes during his career for 10,278 yards with 59 touchdown receptions and holds almost every receiving record in team history.

Last season he caught 79 passes for 1,394 yards with seven touchdowns, and went to the Pro Bowl along with rookie quarterback Cam Newton.

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"The coaches and players in this organization make it real easy to re-sign here," Smith said. "I respect coach Rivera a lot. He's pushed me to grow and examine what options I can bring to the table. It's been very enjoyable. It's a great opportunity to build a stronger foundation to what we're already building."

Smith's current contract was set to expire after the 2012 season, so three years were tacked on the end in what is a complicated deal.

Smith acknowledged that he's thrilled about finishing his career playing with Newton, a budding star in the league.

"When I look at Cam I don't believe anybody can do what Cam did," Smith said. "There are a lot of first-round picks who haven't been able to sustain the pressure and do what Cam did, which is take a company and say, hey, I'll be the face (of the franchise). I'll handle all of the things that didn't go right and I'll fix them. And he did that week in and week out. You have to be a special guy to endure that kind of pressure."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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