Torrey Smith trade working out for Panthers in various ways

Wide receiver Torrey Smith has 12 catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns in his first season with the Panthers. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- One reason the Carolina Panthers acquired Torrey Smith in a trade with the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles during the offseason was the wide receiver's speed and ability to stretch the field.

Smith has one catch longer than 15 yards, a 26-yarder in Week 2 at Atlanta, during a 3-2 start heading into Sunday's 1 p.m. ET game at Philadelphia.

The Panthers as a whole have only two completions of 20-plus yards, which according to ESPN Stats & Information ranks last among the NFL's 32 teams. Kansas City leads the league with 17 completions on 36 attempts.

So, has Smith been worth the trade and his $5 million price tag on the stat sheet in 2018? Yes.

The Panthers want to complete more deep passes, which has been a strength of quarterback Cam Newton's over the years. But it's not Smith's fault that hasn't happened; Newton has adjusted to a Norv Turner offense that relies more on high-percentage passes.

"We haven't had very many opportunities, and the ones we've had we haven't had a great deal of success," Turner said. "We're continuing to work on being a complete passing game, a complete offense. We need to create some explosive plays."

Sometimes you have to look past the numbers to discover a player's value. Sometimes you have to look at everything he does in the locker room, on the practice field and beyond his game stats to determine his worth.

Such is the case with Smith.

That's because the other reason Carolina traded for Smith was it wanted to add leadership to a young receiving corps.

Smith has filled that purpose, from helping Devin Funchess develop into the player who had two amazing catches in Sunday's 23-17 loss to Washington, to giving first-round pick DJ Moore sage advice after the former Maryland star lost two fumbles against the Redskins.

Smith also showed his leadership when he gave management a good argument to sign free-agent safety Eric Reid, a move no other team made.

Then came the fourth quarter against the Redskins.

Smith, who entered the game with only seven catches for 67 yards and one touchdown, showed he is more than a spokesperson for social injustice off the field. He caught five passes on five targets, including a 3-yard touchdown with about nine minutes remaining in regulation. He also caught the pass for a two-point conversion, then caught a 7-yard pass on the final drive that came up short.

Smith showed he can be a viable weapon among a group with a lot of potential that includes Moore, 2017 second-round draft pick in Curtis Samuel and Funchess.

"He's a pro," Newton said. "It doesn't matter if we throw the ball or run the ball; we all have responsibilities to do. No one cares that he didn't get any passes thrown to him until the fourth quarter. When those opportunities came to him, he made the most of them.

"We wouldn't expect nothing else of him because of his whole approach."

The questions about Smith not being the deep threat he was through his first seven years in the league seemed to get under Newton's skin on Wednesday.

"Look, we're good. There's no need. ... I don't know if these questions are rubbing me the wrong way, but look, we are good," Newton said. "Ain't no need to worry about whatever hasn't happened. We don't need to change nothing."

And Smith certainly doesn't plan to change things.

"It's not that we haven't called them," he said of deep passes. "It's that we didn't get the ball off or we haven't executed. It's a little bit on all of us. It's still early in the season. We'll continue to grow and get better."

One could argue Smith was a disappointment last season at Philadelphia and that was the reason he was traded. He caught only 36 passes on 69 targets.

But he did all the other things that don't appear in the stat book.

"He helped us win a championship and I'm so grateful for what Torrey did, what he brought to this team with his leadership ability," said Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who also had a young receiving corps last season. "That's the same thing he's doing at Carolina."

Pederson then referred to Smith's "strange" stat of being one of the best in the NFL at drawing defensive pass interference penalties on deep passes.

"He was always one of those guys we felt if we put him down field, he's either going to catch it or draw a penalty," Pederson said.

Smith was the king of the league in 2012 in drawing pass interference penalties with 16. He drew five in the first four games of the 2014 season at Baltimore.

After drawing his third pass interference penalty last season, Smith joked: "If DPIs counted in your stats, I'd probably be a Hall of Famer."

Strange stats have defined Smith's career almost as much as his leadership. During his 2015-16 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, according to Pro Football Focus, no wide receiver ran a higher percentage of routes against top-25-grade cornerbacks than Smith (45 percent).

"I don't know the whole makeup of what's going on down [at Carolina], but he is explosive and he still can make plays on the ball and down the field," Pederson said.

The Eagles could probably use Smith now. Veteran Mike Wallace, signed to replace Smith as the deep threat, is on injured reserve with a broken leg.

They gave up Smith in a trade with the Panthers in exchange for cornerback Daryl Worley, who was released after being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, along with weapons and disorderly conduct charges.

So the Panthers didn't give up much other than picking up a large salary-cap number, but nobody's complaining about that.

"A guy that is quietly doing the job we need him to do," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.

What Smith wants to do is help Carolina beat the Eagles and ultimately win another title. He'll get to work on that Sunday as soon as he takes a peek at the Super Bowl banner, which he says everybody from the 2017 team except him already has seen.

"I can't wait to see the banner. I'm not going to lie," said Smith, who understood the business side of why he was traded. "After that, it's all business and trying to go win. It's important for us to win on the road."