CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Based on reader comments, sports talk radio in Charlotte, there are a lot of people who believe the Panthers should sign free agent wideout Plaxico Burress.
Steve Smith isn’t one of them – at least not at the moment.
Burress, 34, has expressed an interest in playing for the Panthers because of his family in Charlotte and the team’s offensive weapons, led by Smith and Rookie-of-the-Year quarterback Cam Newton.
Though Smith called Burress an “exceptional wide receiver” during an appearance Thursday night on NFL Network’s NFL Total Access, the Pro Bowl wideout endorsed the Panthers’ approach of giving their young receivers a chance to develop.
“We’ve filled our chairs in the receivers room with already a lot of guys – young and older guys. To bring in Plax (and) to let one of those guys go it wouldn’t be the coach (Ron) Rivera way. The guys that are in there, they earned those chairs for right now and allowed them to go through training camp,” Smith told NFL Network.
“Now, if some injuries were to happen, that would be one of the persons we would look for to look at,” Smith added. “We don’t really need a guy because we also have guys – Brandon LaFell, David Gettis, (Kealoha) Pilares, (Seyi) Ajirotutu. We have some guys that are trying to make their way into the starting lineup and have a bigger role.
”Adding a guy like that would take away some of their development so I don’t really agree with it. Carolina has already come out and said they’re not interested right now, but he’s an exceptional wide receiver and can help a team. I just don’t think it’s the right fit for us right now.“
The Charlotte Observer reported this week the Panthers aren’t interested in Burress, who caught 45 passes for 612 yards and eight touchdowns for the New York Jets last season after spending nearly two years in prison on weapons charges.