Steve Smith finds new home, signs three-year deal with Ravens
Steve Smith is eager to continue his NFL career in Baltimore, where he’s just a short flight from his permanent home in Charlotte.
The longtime Panthers standout wide receiver didn’t waste time finding a new home, signing a three-year contract with the Ravens about 24 hours after being released by Carolina.
The Ravens announced the signing of the 34-year-old Smith on Friday.
Smith was released by the Panthers after 13 seasons. He should provide a solid weapon for quarterback Joe Flacco.
"This has been an organization with a history of giving veteran players a chance and meshing them with younger players," Smith said on a conference call Friday.
Smith arrived in Baltimore late Thursday night and negotiations and meetings continued into the early morning hours on Friday.
Smith said he had a contract offer from the San Diego Chargers and cancelled a visit with the New England Patriots scheduled for Monday. Smith added the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks also expressed interest.
One of the reasons he chose Baltimore, he noted, is because it’s about a one-hour flight to Charlotte, where his family will continue to live. Smith’s wife, Angie, is expecting their fourth child later this year.
Smith ranks 19th in the NFL in career receptions. He caught 64 passes for 746 yards and four touchdowns in 2013. Smith is Carolina’s all-time leader in receptions (836), yards receiving (12,197) and touchdowns (67).
Baltimore has had a void at wide receiver since trading Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers after winning the Super Bowl in February 2013. The Ravens went 8-8 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time in six years.
"We have added one of the top competitors in the NFL to the Ravens," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "He’s a proven player who has performed the best in big games and biggest situations. He adds toughness to our offense."
The Ravens will play the Panthers in 2014 in Baltimore, something Smith is clearly looking to forward to. He told Charlotte-based radio station WFNZ-AM on Wednesday that fans will need to wear goggles because there will "blood and guts everywhere" on the field when he plays the Panthers.
He backed off those comments Friday, saying it was a tongue-in-cheek statement.
"It wasn’t that I don’t like the organization," Smith said. "I have nothing but respect. My teammates have been telling how much they are going to miss me. I have no ill feelings and I’m not upset. I can’t be upset at an organization that gave me everything and allowed me to display for other teams that I can still play."
Smith said he’s excited about the Ravens’ offense, calling it a good fit.
He also made it clear he no longer views himself as a No. 1 receiver, instead seeing himself as a player comparable to Kevin Walter, who played under new Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. Smith has wanted to play in the slot for the last few years and could get that chance in Baltimore.
"I know this system and seen the very creative ways they have gotten guys the ball and I want to be a part of that," Smith said.
Smith has never won a Super Bowl.
"We’re going to swing for the fence," Smith said. "But chasing a ring and making it about all those other things, you can’t do that."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh called Smith a "Ravens-style player."
"He always has been in our eyes, it’s just that he has been playing for another team," Harbaugh said. "We have always been challenged playing against him."
The Ravens also got a four-year deal with linebacker Daryl Smith that solidifies the middle of Baltimore’s defense. The sides reached agreement on Smith’s 32nd birthday.
"I’m really just fired up. I knew I wanted to be back and I’m happy we could come to an agreement so I could get back in there for four years," Darryl Smith said.
He started all 16 games for the Ravens in 2013 and led the team with 123 tackles. He also had a career-high 19 passes defensed, setting a Ravens record by a linebacker.