Time for Torrey Smith’s Pay Day

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Training Camp
Photo Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

It isn’t often that we get to discuss the prospect of the Baltimore Ravens signing a wide receiver they drafted to a long-term deal, but as the 2014 regular season approaches, that discussion may intensify with former second round pick Torrey Smith.

The fourth-year player is entering the final season of his 2011 rookie contract, and with no other picks from that draft in place to ink a new deal with the Ravens at the moment, all signs point to Smith being Baltimore’s next order of business in the contract department.

With the rare opportunity to turn a draft pick at wide receiver into an offensive cornerstone, is the time now for the Ravens to pay Smith?

Steve Smith and Jacoby Jones will be around for two or three years, but the Ravens have the chance to lock Torrey up and keep him in Baltimore for another five years.

There’s no debating whether or not there’s mutual interest to keep Smith in Baltimore beyond his rookie contract; only how much money it will take to keep him remains the question.

Smith – nearing his full potential as a speedster receiver and becoming more than just a deep threat – falls in the good, not great category of wide receivers. A very good #2 receiver, low-tier #1 at best, but maybe not quite the ideal go-to #1 receiver several NFL teams have the luxury of having at their disposal.

That’s far from a knock on Smith, who entered the NFL as an undeveloped rookie. Today he has developed into someone who will likely finish his career having outplayed the draft slot (58th overall) he was selected in.

Through three seasons, Smith has passed the eye test as a receiver who has steadily improved each campaign, with his statistical production backing that up.

Smith 1

His steady growth has been a pleasant surprise. As a rookie, it was clear Smith was a “raw” player in every sense of the word, and even if he hasn’t reached his full potential, he has still displayed the upward trend that is necessary in order to have confidence in handing him a new, more lucrative contract.

Another reason why Smith is an integral piece of Baltimore’s offense that needs to stay around?

Postseason production!

In two seasons and six games of playoff experience, Smith’s catches have been sparse, but when quarterback Joe Flacco calls his number, Smith lives up to his deep threat label.

Smith 2

If Smith can supply 20+ yards per catch every postseason, he’ll always have a place in Baltimore’s offense, and having just turned 25 in January, it appears the Flacco-Smith duo will be an abiding commodity, one that will be the centerpiece of Baltimore’s pass attack for much of Flacco’s remaining tenure with the team.

So, what type of contract he is worthy of?

Comparing Smith to other receivers who have already received their big deals is tough, as so far this offseason the Ravens have managed to sign key free agents for less than the market value (see: Eugene Monroe, Daryl Smith). Therefore, it won’t be a surprise to see the Ravens ultimately get Smith for less than what he could likely receive if he were to test the free agent market next year.

Comparing Smith to receivers similar to him in skill set, though, helps create a basis for the ceiling and floor of his contract.

Let’s start with the ceiling.

During this year’s free agency, the New York Jets signed wide receiver Eric Decker to a five-year deal worth up to $36.25 million with $15 million fully guaranteed. Smith could probably find himself that type of deal if he were to test free agent waters, but odds are the Ravens will be able to avoid dishing out more money than what Decker received.

The middle ground may come from Miami, where Brian Hartline’s five-year deal inked in 2013 brought him $12.5 million guaranteed, with a total value of $30.775 million.

Smith’s floor value may be found in the AFC North, as Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown receiver landed a five-year deal in 2012 worth $41.7 million in total value, but only $8.5 million in fully guaranteed money.

If the Ravens can land Smith in the price range of the three receivers above, – compared to the market – they would be getting reasonable value for Smith. Hartline and Decker are similar to Smith in the sense that their floor is a very good #2 option/low-end #1 option for an offense, while Brown is a notch above Smith in terms of skill set.

The Ravens know what they have with Smith, and that makes it easier to invest in him for the long haul.

Baltimore has just over $4 million in cap space for the 2014 season, giving the Ravens ample room to accommodate, especially as with the case with many extensions, the burden of the large contract on the way usually doesn’t bring a major hit to the team’s salary cap until the following year.

The time is now for Baltimore to lock up Torrey Smith.

Should the Ravens get a deal done this year? How much is he worth?

Which deal should Torrey Smith's new contract most closely resemble?
Eric Decker, 5yr-$36.5M-$15M Guaranteed (36%)
Brian Hartline, 5yr-$30.8M-$12.5M Guaranteed (45%)
Antonio Brown, 5yr-$41.7M-$8.5M Guaranteed (19%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.
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About Kyle Casey

Kyle Casey
Kyle's love of pro and college football stems from his passion for the Baltimore Ravens. He has held season tickets in section 542 of M&T Bank Stadium since 2004. He is currently a sophomore Mass Communications student at Towson University....more

7 Raves on “Time for Torrey Smith’s Pay Day

  1. BCB on said:

    He’s proven to be consistent, reliable, and a great character guy. Even the Mrs. has been a great pickup. Many speak of Pitta as Joe’s go to guy (he is), but Torrey makes defenses respect him. The addition of more technique and routes plus Kubiak’s new system will enable Smith to become our greatest receiver. Also, consider the impact of a receiving veteran like Steve Smith as a teammate. We’ve only seen the beginning of Flacco to Smith. He deserves a nice deal with good guarantees.

  2. Vic on said:

    I think Torrey is a good receiver, a deep threat but not a complete receiver who can carry the team. I don’t think it is fair to consider him a #1 receiver, for him or for the Ravens. Probably like all receivers, he may be overestimating his worth and expect a huge contract. If that is the case, I think the Ravens offer him a Hartline type deal and let him test the free agent waters. If he is lost to a stupid team that want’s to pay him huge money, so be it. We just need to draft a good receiver next year, or may be he’ll end up in Monroe’s shoes and finally sign with the Ravens…

    In the event we do lose him, we’ll at least get a good compensatory pick out of him…

  3. rockmattioli on said:

    he`s consistent…and he certainly hasn`t had a ton of help out there(thanks to the front office treating young,draftable offense like the ebola virus)…..

    but his numbers really don`t warrant him being in any elite class of receivers….

    still,it appears that based on the front office refusing to draft elite offensive college talent(even when they have the opportunity)that smith has the front office by the short hairs…..they really don`t have much of a bargaining position….

  4. rockmattioli on said:

    I just read on nfl.com that ozzie expects the offense to be better….really ozzie?…well,they`d better be better….particularly after you passed on any offense of note in your first 4 picks again this year….you`d better hope that 35 year old steve smith and recently injured owen daniels hold up….because other that that,it`s basically the same offense(aside from signing a middle of the road center from perennial power tampa bay)….

    you had your choice of any rb on the board…some solid wideouts…and did nothing to address the rt tackle position(aside from the usual signings of udfas)……

    we did draft our annual nose tackle and linebacker….we`re three deep at those positions….

    poor flacco…it`s almost as though ozzie and company want to maje it as difficult as possible for the guy to succeed….drafting and grooming young,elite offensive talent seems to be anathema to the braintrust over at owings mills the last few years…

    as some fans enjoy saying,”joe has to make the players around him better”…..

    yeah,right….

  5. JustaslowZ06 on said:

    Decker got overpaid and will be a flop. That being said Torrey should fall into that type of territoryas far as contracts are concerned.

  6. Marcus on said:

    Look, I or no one with any sense believes that Torrey Smith is that number 1 elite receiver in the molds of Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson(when healthy), Fitz or any of the top 10 receivers, but he is working his way up the ladder. I think Torrey has the skill set to make it to become that type of receiver if he keeps pushing himself. I think he will get a contract somewhere between Decker and Heartline. Decker got over paid to go to a team that has quarterback issues I can see this being Torrey’s break out year if he’s healthy.

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