The Ravens are expected to emerge as a strong potential landing spot for Carolina Panthers veteran wide receiver Steve Smith should he be released, according to league sources.
Smith is expected to be cut, barring an unexpected trade developing for the five-time Pro Bowl selection, according to a source.
Besides the Ravens, a source said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are another team that would make a lot of sense for Smith.
Although Smith turns 35 in May, he fits the Ravens' mold as an aggressive, tough wide receiver who could fill the void that the team has had since Anquan Boldin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers before last season. The Ravens could have Smith work in tandem with Torrey Smith, their top deep threat.
Smith carries a $7 million salary-cap figure. There is no offset language in his contract, so the Panthers would owe him $3 million if he's released.
Smith would make the $3 million, which is fully guaranteed, no matter what, in addition to whatever his new team pays him on a new deal.
A trade is regarded as unlikely because of Smith's age and his base salaries of $4 million this year, $7 million in 2015 and $9 million in 2016.
Smith made 64 receptions for 745 yards, an average of 11.6 yards per reception, last season. It was one of his least productive seasons in 13 years in the NFL.
A third-round draft pick from Utah in 2001, Smith has caught 836 career passes for 12,197 yards and 57 touchdowns.
At the NFL scouting combine, Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman tipped his hand and signaled the impending divorce with Smith.
“Steve’s had a great career, he really has,” Gettleman said. “None of us are here forever. But that’s not to say, he’s part of the evaluation process. That’s just the way it is.”