Random thoughts on Smith, Panthers

Random hump day thoughts on the Carolina Panthers:

  • The Charlotte Observer reported that wide receiver Steve Smith finally sat down and talked with general manager Dave Gettleman on Tuesday regarding the vagueness the team has been about his future. It's about time. There was nothing to be gained by the two sides avoiding each other. And good for Smith for requesting the meeting.I still believe he'll be with the club in 2014. There's still value in his soon to be 35-year-old's wheels.

  • With defensive end Greg Hardy signing the franchise tender that guarantees him $13.1 million in 2014 unless Carolina signs him to a long-term deal before July 15, the team still has approximately $8.5 million in cap room left. Among the priorities will be re-signing free safety Mike Mitchell and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., but apparently not cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, set to hit the open market next week.The secondary obviously is in need of an upgrade and cornerback is the obvious position. Whether the Panthers can find somebody that played better than the 5-foot-9 Munnerlyn did this past season remains in question.

  • The Panthers have $17,840,241 tied up in dead money -- the amount of space consumed by players no longer on the roster, --this season. That's more than any team in the league. Doesn't say a lot for some of the deals former general manager Marty Hurney made.

  • Left tackle Jordan Gross never seriously considered playing this season. His mind was made up after he restructured his 2013 deal to eliminate 2014 from his last contract. A sure sign that he didn't plan to return should have been in his sudden weight loss. He's down 25 pounds since the season, understanding he wouldn't need the girth to keep defensive ends off of quarterback Cam Newton.

  • Hardy will be at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., on Wednesday for the Car Wash. His day will begin with makeup at 9:45 a.m. and include stops on "SportsCenter," the Dan Lebatard Radio Show and NFL Insiders. I'm wondering if he'll go into "The Kraken'' mode and show his alter persona? Could make for good television and/or radio.