Carolina Panthers wide receiver Shi Smith was arrested Friday for allegedly carrying an unlawful handgun and drug possession ... after cops initially pulled him over for speeding.
The Union County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina says the 23-year-old was going 16 to 24 over the 55 MPH speed limit in his black Mercedes-Benz on the highway.
A deputy on routine patrol pulled Smith over at 11:22 AM ... and when he approached the vehicle, he claims he smelled marijuana.
Smith's vehicle was eventually searched, and he was arrested for unlawful carrying of a handgun, possession of narcotics and speeding.
According to jail records, his bond was set at just over $6K.
The Union County Detention Center tells us Smith posted bond and was released. His first court appearance is June 14.
The Panthers released a statement after Smith's arrest ... saying, "This is a pending legal matter and there will be no further comment at this time."
Smith -- a 6th round pick in the 2021 draft -- appeared in six games this season and has six catches for 104 yards.
The former Gamecock is the second Panther to get in trouble with the law this offseason ... tight end Ian Thomas was hit with five misdemeanors in February for a July 2021 arrest.