Smith was released by the 49ers on Monday, a move that was first reported by former Raven and now NFL Network analyst Steve Smith Sr., a teammate of Torrey Smith’s in Baltimore. Torrey Smith struggled mightily in his two seasons for the offensively challenged 49ers and carried a $9.475 million salary cap hit for 2017, so his release is hardly surprising.
According to Spotrac, a website that tracks sports salaries, Smith earned $16 million of the $40 million on his 49ers’ contract.
Could a return to the Ravens be next?
It’s too early to say, but Smith obviously has strong ties to the organization and the city after playing for the Ravens from 2011 to 2014. A second-round pick out of Maryland in 2011, Smith caught 213 passes for 3,591 yards and 30 touchdowns in 64 regular season games. He never missed a game because of injury, and his play was instrumental in helping the Ravens en route to winning Super Bowl XLVII following the 2012 regular season.
Smith, 28, is coming off a season in which he missed four games because of a concussion. He never wanted to leave the Ravens, but they didn’t aggressively pursue him once he got to free agency, and Smith opted to head to the West Coast to join the 49ers.
Smith admitted afterward that he was hurt that the Ravens weren’t more aggressive, although a conversation with Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome helped provide some closure.
Still, the wide receiver returns to the area often. His foundation does a ton of work in Baltimore, and he holds his annual charity basketball game will take place in the city this month for a second straight year.
The Ravens clearly need a wide receiver, but they are more looking for a possession guy to team with speedsters Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman and Chris Moore. However, Smith’s availability could certainly impact the Ravens’ pending decision on whether to pick up Wallace’s $5.75 million contract option for 2017, a call that has to be made by Thursday at 4 p.m.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said last week that he anticipated Wallace will be back, but he didn’t guarantee it, acknowledging that the organization had a slew of decisions to make, and nothing was set in stone. The Ravens would create $6 million in salary cap space by moving on from Wallace. If the Ravens believe they can sign Smith at a much cheaper rate than Wallace and then use the savings to address another hole, it could alter their thinking.
It probably isn’t tenable to have a roster that includes Wallace, Smith, Perriman and Moore. All are deep threats with similar skill sets.
Smith, though, will have plenty of suitors, despite two highly disappointing seasons in San Francisco. Several teams are looking to add a deep threat, and Smith figures to be much cheaper than the top free-agent wide receivers, Alshon Jeffery, Terrelle Pryor and Kenny Stills.
The Philadelphia Eagles reportedly tried to acquire Smith before last year’s trade deadline, and they couldn’t find a compromise with the 49ers. Former Ravens scouts Joe Douglas and Andy Weidl, who were both instrumental in the team’s decision to draft Smith back in 2011, are now in the Eagles’ front office under Howie Roseman.
In 28 games with the 49ers, Smith caught just 53 passes for 930 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 53 catches per season during his time in Baltimore.
Smith posted on Twitter after word leaked of his release and wrote, “Don’t be surprised when I’m back on track next year.”