The Baltimore Ravens have just bolstered their wide receiving corps in a big way. Today at two the Baltimore Ravens announced that they signed free agent wide receiver Steve Smith to a three year, $11 million deal. The addition means that the pass happy Joe Flacco has another option to throw to and may be setting another person record for pass attempts this season.
Tight end Dennis Pitta, after a down year due to injury, re-signed with the team earlier in the week, and so has explosive wide outs Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones giving the team a very formidable passing attack. Steve Smith, who turns 35 in May, played 13 seasons for the Carolina Panthers and leaves the team as their franchise leader in receiving yards (836 receptions, 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns). Before free agency started there was talk that the Carolina Panthers were trying to use their dynamic receiver as trade bait, but the $7 million cap hit proved to be too expensive for any team to bite. In the end they released their number one wide out and lost a positive veteran voice in the process; Steve Smith will bring a favorable and encouraging presence with him into the locker room, which right now only has Terrell Suggs as their vocal veteran leader.
Last season Steve Smith let the team with 64 catches, 745 yards, and only four touchdowns, a relatively down year for the once speedy man. None of the other wide outs on the team played consistently well enough to demand extra attention, leading Steve Smith to often see double teams and resulting in his slumped performance. Torrey Smith led his team last year with 65 receptions, 1,128 yards and four touchdowns, but it was running back Ray Rice who was second on the team with 58 receptions for only 321 yards and zero touchdowns; Jacoby Jones missed part of last season when he was injured on the initial kickoff during the first game of the season and Pitta missed the beginning of the season recovering from injury and took a long time to return to full strength, which led Joe Flacco to throw more interceptions than touchdowns for the first time in his career.. By Signing Steve Smith to a three-year deal the Baltimore Ravens have sured up their receivers for the near future and seem to finally have them all at full health.
The change of team should be a welcome sight for Steve Smith as well. Although his years with the Carolina Panthers will be what he is ultimately known for (unless he finds the fountain of youth in Baltimore), he’s been on a team with a franchise quarterback that opts to run the ball himself as much as he throws it. Last year Cam Newton threw the ball 473 total times while Flacco threw the ball 614 times, which was his career high. Torrey Smith will be the number one receiver as long as stays healthy, and Jacoby Jones will most likely be the number two due to his size and speed, but Steve Smith is a tough, old-school type player who should have no problem running across the middle from the slot position and making some game changing catches; he may be one of the fastest 35-year-old men (when the season starts) on the planet let alone in the NFL. With Dennis Pitta coming off the end of the line, Ray Rice running out from the backfield and Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones spreading the field, there is sure to be more than enough balls thrown to in the direction of Steve Smith who could get lost in all the commotion and find some favorable seams; the extra weapon could also help the run game, which was disastrous last season for Ray Rice and the offensive line.
The signing isn’t only exciting for the Baltimore Ravens, but for football fans in general, because this season (the schedules haven’t been released yet) Steve Smith will get to face off against his old team. After Carolina decided to part ways, Steve Smith had some unfavorable words for his old team and vowed that where ever he ended up, that team would get the best, most in-shape and sound minded 35-year-old receiver the NFL has seen. It’s great to see Steve Smith still has the same passion and intensity for the game during a time when running backs rarely stay in the league after their 30th birthday and the only ones to reach late 30’s are quarterbacks, who generally see less wear and tear compared to other positions. Whatever happens during the season, even if time eventually catches up to him, Steve Smith is still a dangerous player who can go off at any time, with many other weapons around him, and on a team that is only one year removed from winning the Super Bowl.
Comentary By Chris Dragicevich