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Panthers' Smith has cleared out locker, suite

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Recent posts by Eric Edholm

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Posted April 25, 2011 @ 5:14 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Prior to NFL teams locking out players from their facilities, Panthers WR Steve Smith cleared out his locker of all his personal belongings at Bank of America Stadium, sources told PFW.

Smith's locker had several personal effects, including his All-Pro award from 2005, the majority of which had remained intact for several years. He also cleared out his luxury suite at the stadium the same day. As part of Smith's contract, he receives use of one of the Panthers' boxes for home games. It had been adorned with photos of Smith throughout his football career.

Although the NFL currently sits in a lockout, with no veteran player movement allowed, the Panthers could trade Smith when regular transactions are allowed. The team has undergone a series of changes since the end of last season's 2-14 campaign, including hiring new head coach Ron Rivera to replace John Fox.

A youth movement began in earnest last season in Fox's final season, and the Panthers were one of the youngest clubs in the NFL. The Panthers own the No. 1 pick in Thursday's draft, but GM Marty Hurney has said in recent interviews the team has not made its mind up about which player it will select.

Smith and Rivera met shortly after the coach's hiring, and the two talked to hash out some issues. Rivera told PFW at the Indianapolis Scouting Combine that he "appreciated (Smith's) honesty with things" and vowed to "be straight" with the four-time Pro Bowl receiver about his future in Carolina when the league's CBA issues are resolved.

Smith is out of town on vacation and was not available for comment. Sources have indicated that Smith previously has asked for a trade in the past.

His house outside of Charlotte has been on the market since last year, and the asking price recently dropped. Sources told PFW at the time it went on the market that Smith wanted a neighborhood with more children in the area so that his own kids had more interaction with children their own age.

Last season was one of Smith's most trying. He caught only 46 passes for 554 yards and two touchdowns — the lowest full-season totals since his rookie year, when he was primarily a returner — as the team's quarterbacks struggled mightily and the Panthers ranked dead last in the NFL in passing yards.

His current contract runs through 2012. Smith has base salaries of $7 million in 2011 and $7.75 million in '12, with salary-cap figures of $9.96 million and $10.71 the next two seasons respectively.

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