Which teams will target Steve Smith?


Per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the Carolina Panthers are expected to release Steve Smith on Thursday, and it sounds like they are targeting Hakeem Nicks as their primary option to replace him.

But where will Smitty end up? Here is a look at the buzz we've heard thus far:

  • Baltimore Ravens: ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley believes the Ravens are "a favorite" to land Smith, noting that GM Ozzie Newsome "has had success picking up veteran receivers in the past, signing Derrick Mason in 2005 and trading for Anquan Boldin in 2010. Smith is the type of clutch, go-to receiver the Ravens need. He also brings an intensity and work ethic that can rub off on young receivers."

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: As we noted on Tuesday, the Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson reported that "a source said the Buccaneers are another team that would make a lot of sense for Smith." That doesn't necessarily mean they intend to contact the wideout, but the Bucs could use a crafty veteran working alongside Vincent Jackson.

  • New England Patriots: They desperately need to improve their WR corps, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweeted Thursday that "the Pats will continue to monitor the WR market as well - Edelman, Nicks, Steve Smith - and in the end you have to figure they land one."

  • San Diego Chargers: As ESPN's Chargers reporter Eric D. Williams notes, there is a logical connection between Smith and San Diego, because "Chargers coach Mike McCoy is very familiar with Smith, having coached him for eight seasons while serving as quarterbacks coach, receivers coach and passing game coordinator in Carolina."

  • Dallas Cowboys: Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer on Thursday cited a source who said that, "Smith gave [GM Dave] Gettleman five teams as potential trade partners: Dallas, New England, Baltimore, Tampa Bay and San Diego." Now that he's being released, perhaps the Cowboys would be interested in him, as they were back in 2010 before Smith re-signed with the Panthers.

  • Oakland Raiders: On Wednesday, the Charlotte Observer's Jonathan Jones cited a source who said, "along with Ravens, the Raiders or Bucs could be a landing spot for Steve Smith". It's more likely Smith would want to join a contender, so the Raiders seem like a long shot at this point.

We will have more rumors regarding Smith's potential suitors as they come in.