Including bonuses Smith is due to earn $7 Million in 2014,the Panthers already have salary cap issues and also just franchised defensive end Greg Hardy to the tune of $12 Million and that is really the only reason for the possibility of Smith departing.
Smith however will not be retiring if the Panthers decide to move on without him, when asked:
Are you ready to go now? "Today?" Smith asks. "No, I'm not ready to not play today."
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman took plenty of observers by surprise when he was less than assertive about the 13-year veteran's status with the team in 2014. According to Will Brinson of CBSSports.com, Gettleman said that he would "evaluate" the situation:
We're going through the whole process. Steve's had a great career. He really has. None of us are here forever. But that's not to say—he's part of the evaluation process. That's just the way it is.
Perhaps the only thing that could keep Smith in Carolina is a restructured contract but whether Smith wants to take a pay cut after spending 13 years with the same team is certainly up for debate but seeing Steve Smith in another uniform would certainly take some getting used to.