The Ravens were out to add a premier wide receiver to replace Anquan Boldin in a way they couldn’t last season.
And on Friday afternoon, they did just that, agreeing to a three-year deal with former Panthers wideout Steve Smith. ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report the agreement while CBS’ Jason La Canfora tweeted the contract is worth $10.5 million, including a $3.5 million signing bonus.
Baltimore doesn’t lose a draft pick with the signing because Smith was released by Carolina rather than having his contract run out.
“We’ve added one of the top competitors in the NFL to the Ravens,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. “Steve is a proven player who has performed his best in big games and on the biggest stages like the playoffs and Super Bowl. He adds toughness to our offense, big-play ability and leadership to our team.”
Smith, who turns 35 on May 12, instantly becomes the most accomplished wideout on the Ravens roster and arguably the most renowned receiver to ever join the organization.
In 13 NFL seasons, all with Carolina, Smith has recorded 836 receptions (25th in NFL history) for 12,197 yards (19th all-time) and 67 touchdowns (39th all-time). He is a five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro.
“Steve is a Ravens-style football player,” coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. “He always has been in our eyes, it’s just that he’s been playing for another team. We’ve respected and admired the way he plays, and we’ve always been challenged playing against him. I’ve known him ever since he came into the league, and we’ve always had a great relationship. The last two days, however, have given all of us with the Ravens an opportunity to get to know him on another level, and now, we’re even more impressed. We’re looking forward to working together and competing together.”
The biggest question is what the 5-foot-9 receiver has left. Last season, Smith finished with 64 catches for 745 yards and four touchdowns, his lowest totals since 2010. That was in part because of a knee injury.
But Smith has seven career seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards and nine with at least 60 receptions. His best year came in 2005 when he led the NFL with 103 catches, 1,563 receiving yards and 12 touchdown grabs.
His addition gives the Ravens an impressive and deep set of receiving options with Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown slotted behind him. Baltimore could be in the market for another tight end to add to that group and has been connected to former Texan Owen Daniels, another cap casualty.
But quarterback Joe Flacco just received one of the most talented wideouts he’s ever had at his disposal, and it will be worth watching just how improved the passing game will be with such an addition.