With Steve Smith now officially cut by the Carolina Panthers, the Ravens are expected to aggressively pursue the five-time pro bowler to upgrade their receiver corps.
This move makes sense for the Ravens for a number of reasons. Despite his age, you could make the argument that Smith is still better than any other option on the market.
With Eric Decker signing a deal worth $36.25 million and $15 million guaranteed, chances are Julian Edelman will be looking for a very similar deal. Hakeem Nicks’ value is tough to gauge, but it’s been reported he wants a multi-year deal and may be the riskiest of all three considering his injuries and lack of production over the past two years.
Paying any of these guys top money makes no sense, and the Ravens know that. Decker was overpaid and chances are Edelman and Nicks will be as well. They aren’t top guys, but teams like the Jets will pay them that way.
The Ravens know they don’t need a number one receiver; they have that. They need a complement to Torrey Smith that will help Dennis Pitta work the middle of the field – Steve Smith is that guy.
Smith fits perfectly into the role that the Ravens need. He himself said he is most effective out of the slot, but with the other wideouts Carolina possessed he was never able to play that role. He will with the Ravens. With Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones lining up on the other side of Torrey Smith, it will give Steve an opportunity to position himself where he feels he can be most effective.
Sure he’s 34, and he may not be a pro bowler at this point in his career, but he doesn’t need to be. He may have lost a step, but certainly still has the quickness to beat most corners and will be a matchup nightmare for any linebacker or safety.
As crazy as it sounds, the biggest reason Steve Smith makes the most sense is because he’s not a number one receiver anymore, and thirteen years into his career he most likely knows this. He won’t demand top dollar. Unlike the aforementioned receivers, he’s not a guy who will carry a big cap number three years down the road.
The Ravens need to extend Torrey Smith; hopefully, it’s something that can get done before the start of the 2014 season. Signing Steve Smith still makes that a realistic possibility, whereas signing Edelman or Nicks would make it tough.
Joe Flacco needs more weapons, there is no doubt about it. But there are no elite receivers on the market, and paying any as such would be a huge mistake. Let’s let the Jets and other consistently subpar teams deal with that headache two years from now.
Signing Steve Smith makes a lot more sense and will allow the Ravens to keep doing what they do best – take care of their own.