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Panthers bring back Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Ihmir Smith-Marsette

CHARLOTTE — The Carolina Panthers have agreed to terms with wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, the team announced Tuesday.

This keeps the receiver in Charlotte, where he played last season, and allows him to stay with the same team for a second year in a row, the first such time in his young career.

Smith-Marsette first entered the league in 2021 with the Minnesota Vikings. He spent the 2022 season with the Chicago Bears before being traded to the Panthers from Kansas City last preseason. As the season progressed, Smith-Marsette received more and more snaps, pulling in all eight of his receptions (for 51 yards) in the final seven games. Coaches began using Smith-Marsette's speed out of the backfield as well, handing off the ball for eight rushes for 74 yards and a touchdown.

The touchdown was the second of Smith-Marsette's career with the Panthers. His first was during the Thursday night game versus his former team, the Bears, when Smith-Marsette returned a punt 79-yards for a score.

The New Jersey native and Iowa product made it abundantly clear at the end of the Panthers season that he wanted to return to Carolina. The opportunity to play with Bryce Young as the young quarterback grows was too good to pass up, according to Smith-Marsette.

"I want to be here because first of all, the impact Bryce has on the game, the talent you see, the flashes he showed, it's like, you don't really get that a lot of places," Smith-Marsette shared in early January. "So, it's a lot of moving parts with quarterback play and stuff like that. That's the capabilities he has, and I just want to be a part of that. I feel like I connect with him on the field. He sees what I see. I see what he sees. And it's just like, we always seem to hit.

"There's so many moving pieces, different players that quarterbacks play with and stuff like that. So I would say it's kind of hard to just instantly come in and connect and then be on the same page all the time. (But) I definitely feel like what we have right now is building, and it's only gonna get stronger, and I just want to be somebody that he can depend on and be somebody when he goes out there, he knows, 'I know what I'm gonna get out of Smith-Marsette.'"

In addition to what he began to add as a receiver, Smith-Marsette provides the Panthers with a top-10 punt returner. He brought 37 punts last season for 322 yards (averaging 8.7 per return) with the touchdown.

Whether as a returner, receiver, or shifty slot option, Smith-Marsette felt at the end of the 2023 season, he'd finally been given a chance to prove himself. Now, he'll get a chance to build on his season.

Said Smith-Marsette in January: "I just haven't had a place that really wanted me. Being here, it just feels like, now that I'm given the opportunity, it's just like, 'this kid can really play.' I feel like I can stick here."

View photos of the Panthers wideout from his first season in Carolina.

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