Carroll County Times

Ravens sign former Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith

Steve Smith (89) celebrates his touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of a divisional playoff game Jan. 12 in Charlotte, N.C.

Steve Smith's original plan was to visit multiple teams before making a decision on who to sign with.

He had a meeting scheduled with the New England Patriots for Monday, and he also received interest from the San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks.


Smith said during a conference call Friday night that the Chargers even had an offer on the table.

But Smith arrived in Baltimore for a visit Thursday night. He met further with the Ravens Friday. And before Friday ended, the former Pro Bowl wide receiver had signed a three-year deal to join Baltimore.


"I really felt like after sitting here that this is a place that I felt best at, that fit me, and they convinced me that I would fit in here really well," Smith said.

The soon-to-be 35-year old Smith spent the first 13 seasons of his career with the Carolina Panthers, but he was released by the Panthers Thursday.

However, Smith is just two years removed from posting 73 catches for 1,174 yards while averaging more than 16 yards per catch.

Even at 34 last season, he led Carolina receivers in both catches (64) and yards (745).

He is a five-time Pro Bowler who was selected to the Pro Bowl as recently as 2011.

He isn't big. He's listed at just 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds. But he's long been regarded as one of the toughest, most competitive players in the NFL regardless of position.

"We've added one of the top competitors in the NFL to the Ravens," Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "Steve is a proven player who has performed his best in big games and on the biggest stages, like the playoffs and Super Bowl. He adds toughness to our offense, big-play potential and leadership to our team."

Smith also fills a position of need.


At the beginning of the offseason, Newsome listed some of the Ravens' top priorities for the offseason. One of them was adding a physical, Anquan Boldin-like pass-catcher that can make the difficult, contested catches in key situations that Baltimore's pass catchers so often struggled to make in 2013.

The Ravens get that in Smith.

"Steve is a Ravens-style football player," coach John Harbaugh. "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."

Baltimore also gets a veteran player who could be valuable as a mentor on a team with so many young wide receivers.

Six of the other seven receivers on the roster are 25 years old or younger, including last year's leading receiver, Torrey Smith.

"I can't wait to learn from [Smith]," second-year receiver Aaron Mellette tweeted. "I met him earlier today and it was a great encounter."


Also, the Ravens are not at risk of losing a compensatory pick in next year's NFL draft because Smith was not an unrestricted free agent.

But one of the primary reasons that Smith chose Baltimore is that he felt like he has a chance to be a valuable producer on the field for a team that he expects to challenge for a Super Bowl.

And while the Ravens have other areas they still plan to address, they addressed one of their biggest areas of concern in a big way Friday night.

"I believe and the Baltimore Ravens believe that I can help increase the chances of us being successful, and so that's what we're going to do," Smith said. "We're going to swing for the fence."