The Carolina Panthers and veteran wide receiver Steve Smith are heading toward a divorce, a development the Ravens are expected to monitor closely.

The agent for the five-time Pro Bowl selection said Smith won't play for the Panthers next season.

"It's obvious the Panthers are going in a different direction with their receiving corps," Derrick Fox said in a telephone interview. "Steve will be throwing on a jersey for another team to be named soon."

Should Smith be cut, the Ravens are expected to heavily pursue him, according to league sources. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are another team expected to be involved.

Smith, 34, could provide the physical, experienced presence the Ravens have lacked since trading Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers last year.

The relationship between Smith and general manager Dave Gettleman has been rocky ever since Gettleman tipped his hand at the NFL scouting combine that Smith might not be in the Panthers' plans. That bothered Smith because he found out about his status through media reports instead of directly from the team.

Why are the Panthers parting with Smith?

He turns 35 in May and carries a $7 million salary-cap figure for the 2014 fiscal year.

With no offset language in his contract, Smith would be owed $3 million by the Panthers if he's released.

The reason why a trade is unlikely is because Smith is an older player. His existing contract includes base salaries of $4 million this year, $7 million in 2015 and $9 million in 2016.

His production dipped a bit last season as he dealt with injuries, but he's regarded as healthy now after returning for the playoffs.

He finished last season with 64 catches, 745 yards and averaged 11.6 yards per reception.

For his career, Smith has 836 receptions for 12,197 yards and 15 touchdowns.

awilson@baltsun.com
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Read morhere: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/03/10/4756470/panthers-smith-divorce-close.html#storylink=cp