Originally written April 10, 2012 on Fox Sports:
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The Carolina Panthers inked the team's career receiving leader Steve Smith to a three-year contract extension that also eased the team's salary cap worries. Smith, who was entering the final year of his previous deal, was signing on through 2015 with an option to add another season in 2016, Pro Football Weekly reported Tuesday. Details of Smith's new earnings were unknown, though the report said it likely mirrors the three-year deal Reggie Wayne recently agreed with the Colts. Smith had been due to be paid $7.75 million in 2012 with a cap figure of $10.7 million. The new deal was thought to ease Carolina's cap room by spreading the payment of Smith's signing bonus across the forthcoming seasons. The team previously was less than $1 million under the cap, Pro Football Weekly said. After a few lean years, the 32-year-old enjoyed a strong revival with Cam Newton in 2011 in the quarterback's rookie season, with 79 catches for 1,394 yards and seven touchdowns.
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