Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET, Thursday, July 28
Sources have indicated to Pro Football Weekly that WR Steve Smith is expected to remain a Panther this season after rumors had circulated around the league that he would be traded this offseason.
When reached for comment, Smith said he "and his family decided we wanted to stay" and indicated he would report to camp with his teammates as scheduled on Friday. He gave no further comment.
Panthers GM Marty Hurney didn't immediately return a phone call.
Smith had expressed his frustration to team management after last season, which was his worst statistically for a full year since becoming a starter. Although he says he never demanded a trade, Smith told PFW this offseason he wanted to go to a "competitive situation," wherever that might be.
League sources say Hurney made calls around the league to gauge the interest level in Smith, but there were no substantive talks with any specific team.
Since the opening of free agency, the Panthers have been among the most active teams. They have re-signed big-ticket in-house free agents DeAngelo Williams and Charles Johnson for $53 million guaranteed and signed a handful of outside free agents, such as DT Ron Edwards, TE Ben Hartsock, PK Olindo Mare and S Kevin Payne.
It's an exciting new chapter in the Panthers' history, even coming off a 2-14 season. No. 1 pick Cam Newton has entered the mix at quarterback and head coach Ron Rivera is getting his first head-coaching opportunity. And now they apparently will welcome back their best receiver, as well.