CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s official: Torrey Smith is the newest member of the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers announced Wednesday they had traded cornerback Daryl Worley for the former Philadelphia wide receiver, although the move was reported by several NFL insiders last week as transactions began to leak across the league.
According to a report from ESPN, the defending Super Bowl champs needed to clear salary cap space, so swapping Smith’s $5 million salary for Worley’s $650,000 contract made financial sense as free agency opened Wednesday.
Here are five things you need to know about the Panthers’ new wide receiver.
He’s a two-time Super Bowl champion
Since entering the NFL in 2011, success has always seemed to follow Smith. Smith was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. During his rookie campaign, Smith caught 50 passes for 841 yards and seven touchdowns, helping the Ravens reach the AFC Championship Game.
The next year, Smith’s numbers were almost identical and the Ravens brought home Super Bowl 47 by defeated San Francisco. Smith’s last two seasons in Baltimore resulted in career bests for receiving yards and touchdowns in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
After a two-year stint with San Francisco, Smith signed with Philadelphia, who went on to win Super Bowl 52 over New England. Smith finished last season with 36 catches for 430 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
He used to workout with Cam Newton
During his introductory conference call Wednesday, the 29-year-old said he and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton have known each other since entering the NFL together in 2011.
“We actually used to work out in the offseason up in Baltimore, so I’ve been familiar with seeing the Panthers camp come through, all the guys getting together to work up there,” Smith said. “So it’s pretty cool to now be a part of that officially instead of just joining in because don’t have a quarterback to throw to me, so I’m excited about that.”
Smith went on to compliment Newton’s ability, saying he has confidence the former NFL MVP can get it done.
He considers former Panther Steve Smith a “big brother”
In 2014, Steve Smith Sr. joined the Ravens after 13 seasons in Carolina. For “Agent 89,” it was a renaissance year, as he topped 1,000 receiving yards and caught six touchdowns. Torrey Smith said playing with a veteran like Smith taught him about more than just being a good football player.
“It’s honestly bigger than the game,” said Smith. “I’ve seen the great side of Steve, how he is to his family, how committed he is to his kids and his wife. We spent Thanksgiving together on year in Baltimore. We still communicate all the time to this day. He’s a legit big brother.
“I can talk to him about anything on and off the field. I’m thankful to have him in my life as a positive role model.”
He expected to be traded after the Super Bowl
Smith said after the season he came to Charlotte and took a physical and knew there was a possibility he would be traded to Carolina. He went on to say the Eagles were very open about trading him and when Carolina was on the short list of destinations, he was pleased.
“I was happy when they told me who the team was because if I had to go anywhere, I wanted to go to a winner, a place that has a chance,” he said. “This is that place for me. I was talking to my agent that if my option wasn’t picked up, this was one of the places I wanted to be.”
The Panthers have made the NFL playoffs four times in the last five years, including three NFC South championships.
He brings a much-needed deep threat to the Panthers receiver corps
Since coming out of the University of Maryland, Smith’s reputation is that he’s a speedy receiver capable of “taking the top” off the defense, which is something Carolina has struggled with since the departure of Ted Ginn Jr.
“For me, obviously I’m known for my speed. I can run every route, regardless if people don’t believe that,” Smith said. “I’ve been in roles the past few years where I’m asked to do a job.”
But it's not just Smith's pure speed that will help the Panthers. He considers it his duty to be a mentor to his younger teammates.
“I’ll be able to help them to be the best that they can be, and teach them some of the things I’ve learned along the way. That’s as much of my responsibility as it is for me to be the best player that I can be. That comes with the territory.”