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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Panthers Sign WR Steve Smith to 3-Year Extension

Panthers Sign Smith to 3-Year Extension

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Receiver Steve Smith agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday in a deal that will keep him with the team through the 2012 season.

His agent, Derrick Fox, said he wasn't authorized to release exact figures, but said Smith's new deal makes him among the five highest-paid receivers in the NFL.

"Steve wanted to complete his career with the Panthers and bring Carolina a Super Bowl," Fox said. "This gives him peace of mind."

The 28-year-old Smith had three years left on a six-year, $27 million contract. He was scheduled to make $3.l, $3.6 and $4.2 million over the next three seasons, but now will make significantly more.

Smith had been hoping to get a new deal for some time and the Panthers had made a long-term deal one of their top priorities after they released veteran receiver Keyshawn Johnson last week.

Smith, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, led the NFL with 103 catches for 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2005. Fox said negotiations with general manager Marty Hurney began after that season.

"When he had the Triple Crown season, Marty came to us and said he had outplayed his contract," Fox said. "But it was a hard process, because he was just two years in (to a six-year contract)."

Smith's numbers declined last season. He missed the first two games with a hamstring injury, and finished with 20 fewer catches, 400 fewer receiving yards and four fewer touchdowns and Carolina finished a disappointing 8-8.

Offensive coordinator Dan Henning was fired, and Smith said at last weekend's minicamp that he was pleased with new coordinator Jeff Davidson's offense. Davidson had said he wanted to find new ways to get Smith the ball.

Smith was Carolina's third-round pick in 2001. Used primarily as a kick returner as a rookie, Smith became Carolina's go-to receiver in their Super Bowl season in 2003.

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