Veteran wide receiver Steve Smith immediately declared his intentions following the Ravens' AFC divisional round playoff loss to the New England Patriots: he wanted to return for next season.

However, general manager Ozzie Newsome urged the five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver to take some time to make sure he wanted to keep playing and wasn't making a hasty deccison.


Ravens coach John Harbaugh confirmed Wednesday that the 35-year-old hasn't changed his mind and is definitely in the Ravens' plans next season.

"I talked to Steve last week, he's excited," Harbaugh said at the NFL scouting combine. "He's planning on being back. We're planning on having him back. That's a goal of ours. I don't see any reason why that wouldn't happen."

A source with knowledge of Smith's thinking reiterated that he always planned to play at least two seasons for the Ravens, if not longer, before retiring.

Smith caught 79 passes for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns last season and had another eight receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs. Smith caught five passes for 101 yards during an AFC wild-card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and had three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots.

When the season ended, Harbaugh said Smith wouldn't necessarily have to play as many snaps next season, during the second year of a three-year, $11 million contract, and expressed confidence the feisty wide receiver has more good football left.

While Smith's status for next season has been determined, that isn't the case for defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Lardarius Webb.

The Ravens will meet with the agents for Ngata and Webb at the combine this week to try to find common ground on potentially restructuring their contracts, according to sources.

Ngata has a $16 million salary cap figure for next season and an $8.5 million base salary. Webb has a $12 million salary cap figure and an $8 million base salary. The Ravens also have to figure out if they're going to bring back wide receiver Torrey Smith, who could be expensive.

No deals are imminent for any of the players, according to sources. A former Maryland standout, Smith has made it clear he prefers to stay with the Ravens. Ngata and Webb would both like to return, according to sources. However, financial compromises have to be reached for that to happen due to the Ravens' salary cap situation.

"I talked to those guys to one degree or the other," Harbaugh said. "I talked to Torrey, obviously, at the Maryland [men's basketball] game [against Indiana]. I'm giving a little recruiting effort. I believe those guys really want to be back, so we should have a shot to get them back."

Meanwhile, the status of tight end Dennis Pitta remains unresolved as the Ravens await word on whether he'll be medically cleared to play football.

Pitta — without being hit — dislocated and fractured his hip for the second time within a year last September against the Cleveland Browns. He underwent surgery to repair the damage and has been rehabilitating, but it's unclear if he'll be able to play again.

"I talked to the doctors and there's really nothing definitive," Harbaugh said. "It's between Dennis and the doctors right now. So, I've got my fingers crossed, but only for what's best for Dennis. There's no way in the world that you want anything other than the fact that he can be safe."

During training camp in 2013, Pitta fractured and dislocated his right hip when he landed awkwardly while trying to make a contested catch against strong safety James Ihedigbo. Pitta was later activated from injured reserve-designated to return list and caught 20 passes for 169 yard and a touchdown in four games.


The Ravens signed him to a five-year, $32 million contract that included $16 million guaranteed, an investment made with assurances from doctors that a recurrence of the hip injury was extremely unlikely.

Pitta has made progress in his rehabilitation from the second hip injury. Whether or not his hip would dislocate again is hard to determine.

"His hip is fully recovered in the sense that the blood flow is there and there's no lingering problem from either one of the injuries," Harbaugh said. "So, he's in great position to live a great life, which is the main thing. Whether it goes to the next step and he wants or is able to play football, that will be up to them. I'm like you, I'm waiting to hear."

Pitta is due a $4 million guaranteed base salary next season.

"We have nothing to lose by just letting it play out," Harbaugh said. "He's got a guaranteed contract for next year. So, financially he's in good shape. We'll just have to see where it goes. We'll just plan accordingly."

In the meantime, the Ravens are focused this week on prospects at the combine.

One year removed from former Ravens running back Ray Rice being arrested in a high-profile domestic violence incident in Atlantic City, N.J., that sparked a national conversation about violence against women, NFL teams, including the Ravens, are scrutinizing draft prospects' character even more than usual. NFL teams are apt to downgrade or remove players entirely from their draft boards if they've had a history of violence against women.

"I would be hard pressed to know how we can look at it any closer than what we have, especially legally," Harbaugh said. "There is only so much that you can do in terms of digging into people's background and respecting people's privacy. We want to learn as much as we can about a player. Decisions wise, you mention domestic violence.

"The thing that's bigger than the Ravens generally is that this is a societal issue. It's something that we need to take very seriously, not that we didn't before. But when you learn more about it and realize the implications of it, we all have a chance, especially the NFL, we can confront this and help. We did our best through the whole process and we can do a lot better going forward because we know more now."

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