The Baltimore Ravens boosted their inventory of Smiths for the foreseeable future.
The Ravens signed former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith to three-year, $11 million deal including a $3.5 million bonus per reports.
Smith, who will turn 35 before the 2014 season begins has been a solid receiver in the Panthers organization since entering the league in 2001.
Carolina released the veteran wide out on Thursday perhaps prompted by the $13 million this season Smith was set to make in 2014. Smith harbors no ill feelings towards his former team.
“I can’t be upset at an organization that gave me everything,” Smith said. ”They gave me an opportunity.”
The Carolina Panthers loss is the Ravens gain. Per the Baltimore Sun, Smith will receive salaries of $1 million 2014, $3 million 2015, $3 million 2016, $1M 60pct one-time playtime clause.
Smith brings a lengthy resume to the purple and black and one that includes, ranking 19th all-time in receiving yards, 25th in receptions and seven 1,000-yard seasons. In 2013, Smith recorded 64 receptions, 745 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
The signing of Smith will no doubt bring a veteran presence to a Ravens wide receiver corps along with leadership that has been amiss since Anquan Boldin was traded prior to the 2013 season. Smith’s no nonsense style of play has made him one of the games toughest receivers often drawing comparisons to the former Raven receiver.
Yet Steve takes the opposite approach.
“‘I’m not here to replace anyone,” Smith told reporters. “I’m here to be myself.”
Smith is excited to be in Baltimore and can’t wait to get started.
“I’m not coming to Baltimore with a chip on my shoulder,” Smith stated during his conference call.
“I’m coming to Baltimore as Steve Smith.”
The Ravens never gave Smith the chance to leave Baltimore without signing a contract. Smith stated he had trips scheduled to meet with the Patriots on Monday as well as other offers from the San Diego Chargers, Redskins and said Seattle was very interested as well.
‘We’ve added one of the top competitors in the NFL to the Ravens,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome stated in a message to reporters.
“He adds toughness, big-play ability and leadership.”
John Harbaugh added, “Steve is a Ravens-style football player.”
“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.”
It appears as if the Ravens are done searching for receivers in free agency now that Smith is a Raven. While it is unlikely the signing of Smith will change their draft strategy, look for the Ravens to take a receiver in May’s upcoming draft.
For now it’s back to business for the Ravens front office as they continue their push to improve their 2014 season and beyond.
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