Official: Panthers acquire WR Torrey Smith via trade
March 14, 2018 08:30 PM | Bryan Strickland
CHARLOTTE - The trade is official; the moves that assure the trade makes sense are not.

But once the ink dries, the Torrey Smith-for-Daryl Worley swap will make sense, will save cents and will make possible a more sensible draft approach for the Panthers.

Smith officially joined the Panthers' wide receivers room Wednesday afternoon when the new league year kicked off. Carolina acquired him from the Super Bowl champion Eagles in exchange for Worley, a third-year cornerback who started the majority of Carolina's games his first two seasons.

"When you talk about Torrey Smith, there are a lot of reasons he fits what we need as an offensive football team," first-year offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. "Having a veteran receiver in our group with a lot of young players there is helpful - a guy who just experienced going to a Super Bowl.

"He's a good-sized receiver who obviously has great speed. He's been successful in the vertical passing game his entire career, but I thought in Philadelphia he branched out and did more versatile things. He really showed he can be a complete receiver. He adds that dimension to our football team that will help everybody."

No one questioned the Panthers' need to get deeper at receiver this offseason - deeper in terms of talent and in terms of securing a guy with speed that includes a track record of success on game day. The Panthers have seen promise in Curtis Samuel and Damiere Byrd, but they've seen the production from Smith for years rather than for games.

"The big thing about Torrey is that he's stayed remarkably healthy - he's missed very few games during his career," Turner said of the 6-foot, 205-pound Smith, who has missed just four games in his seven-year career. "Some smaller speed guys are a little more brittle, are not as durable. Torrey is a big receiver that can stretch the field and has been very durable."

Smith also makes sense - dollars and cents relatively speaking - off the field. Even before free agent deals become official, the dollar figures being thrown at receivers made Smith a bargain. And we're not just talking about the astronomical numbers being bandied about for top-of-the-totem-pole pass catchers like Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins. The money going toward hot-and-cold receivers like Donte Moncrief and Paul Richardson and solid-if-so-far-not-spectacular players like Albert Wilson and Taylor Gabriel also are eye-popping.

To boot, trading for a receiver under contract like Smith puts the Panthers in better position in the compensatory pick calculator for the 2019 NFL Draft. The value of those add-on picks shouldn't be underestimated.

Now back to Smith himself and the specifics on why he's a nice addition. Turner and general manager Marty Hurney have made no bones about wanting to get better at receiver, about adding more athleticism and speed. Those attributes apply to Smith, who ran a 4.41 in the 40 at the 2011 NFL Combine and hasn't shown many signs of slowing down.

His numbers since leaving the Ravens, who selected him in the second round of the '11 draft, have taken a backslide, but that doesn't mean he has as a player. In San Francisco in 2015 and '16, he labored for a franchise that totaled seven victories over the two seasons while switching back and forth between quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick.

In Philadelphia last year, quarterback play wasn't a problem, but a logjam at receiver was. The Eagles turned early and often to Alshon Jeffery, and Smith found himself lost in the mix at times with the emergence of Nelson Agholor. But when given the chance, when needed the most, Smith delivered. He hauled in 13 passes - second to Agholor among Eagles wide receivers - over the course of three postseason victories that culminated with a Super Bowl triumph.

The 29-year-old Smith has more to give and more to prove, and the Panthers should provide plenty of opportunity. Smith's 39 career touchdowns nearly double the total the rest of the receivers currently on the roster can claim (21, including 17 from Devin Funchess).

With free agency just beginning and the draft still to come, the Panthers might not be done at receiver or cornerback. But this trade and the team's out-of-the-gate plan for free agency has put the Panthers in better position at both pivotal spots to not give into the pressure that "need" can exert on draft day.

The start of the new league year also made official that Carolina did not tender contracts to the team's four potential restricted free agents: wide receiver Kaelin Clay, cornerback LaDarius Gunter, tight end Scott Simonson and offensive lineman David Yankey. These players immediately became free agents and are free to sign with any team, just like the team's unrestricted free agents.

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