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Update: Panthers confirm Steve Smith extension – Charlotte Observer

Inside the Panthers: Update: Panthers confirm Steve Smith extension.

The Panthers have locked up Steve Smith, the team’s career receiving leader, for at least four more seasons while also easing salary cap concerns.

A Panthers spokesman confirmed Smith has agreed to a three-year contract extension. Smith is expected to sign the contract Tuesday and address the media Tuesday afternoon.

Derrick Fox, Smith’s agent, said the deal goes through the 2015 season with an option for 2016. Fox declined to disclose the financial terms.

Pro Football Weekly first reported the extension Tuesday morning.

Smith, 32, who was entering the final year of his deal, has been with the Panthers throughout his career and has never experienced free agency.

“Steve’s thrilled to be able to finish his career as a Carolina Panther, as he always planned to,” Fox said.

Under his previous deal, Smith was the team’s second highest-paid player behind defensive end Charles Johnson.

Smith was set to make $7.75 million this year with a cap figure of $10.7 million, although the cap number figures to be reduced significantly as his signing bonus will be spread out over the length of his new contract.

The Panthers are about $1 million under the cap.

After the Panthers’ 2-14 season in 2010, Smith met with Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to discuss being traded. But he stayed in Charlotte and — along with rookie quarterback Cam Newton — earned a Pro Bowl berth after catching 79 passes for 1,394 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011.

Fox said Smith is pleased with the direction of the Panthers under Ron Rivera, who replaced John Fox after the 2010 season.

Smith, who turns 33 in May, surpassed 10,000 career receiving yards last season. His yardage total of 10,278 ranks fifth among active receivers and 32nd on the NFL’s all-time list.

“Steve is a tireless worker and competitor,” Derrick Fox said. “He’s healthy and is looking forward to playing as long as his health allows him.”

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