Smith was released by the Panthers, who did not want to pay the salary which the veteran receiver was due. The Ravens eventually came to a three year deal with Smith and now Rivera has revealed that the split happened for purely football reasons.
“He doesn’t have the top-end speed like he used to, but he still has good speed,” said Rivera.
The statement from Rivera may be correct in principal, Smith is now 34 years-old and will not possess the explosive quickness that he showed previously in his career. However, the Carolina Panthers have left themselves with a number of inexperienced receiver in his stead who are unlikely to produce the sort of quickness necessary at high NFL level.
It's understandable that the Panthers would like to step away from the outspoken leader in Steve Smith and create a new identity with young stars Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly but the team could be facing a huge drop-off in performance after making the playoffs last season.