Baltimore Ravens: Is Steve Smith Reaching His End?


Dec 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. (89) catches a pass in front of Cleveland Browns cornerback Buster Skrine (22) in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens’ wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. was asked during the first week of OTAs about how much longer he would play in the NFL. The veteran wide receiver is 36 years old and in his 15th season, his second year with the black and purple.

The comparisons to Jerry Rice came early in his press conference on whether he would play into his 40s as the Hall of Fame receiver did.

"“Jerry Rice is, obviously, the greatest wide receiver to ever play, and I really don’t have the family structure to chase 40, to be honest. I have a lot of things on my ‘to do’ list that don’t have to do anything with football. So, I’m going to take it day by day, but I will not be playing until I’m 40.”"

He said it himself. The Ravens will not have the veteran presence beyond his 40th birthday. He very well could retire next season.

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He will be a free agent in 2017, when he will be 38 years old. If he is certain about not playing until he is 40, his retirement should come when his contract with Baltimore is up.

How could this possibility affect the way the Ravens prepare this offseason with their receivers?

At this point, it won’t. Head coach John Harbaugh would never openly admit to worrying about the future like this. I cannot see him even addressing it, even if someone asks him directly.

If Smith has told the media he doesn’t plan to play until he’s 40, and is taking everything day-by-day right now, he has certainly made his head coach aware.

The front office has already prepared to make the receiving corps younger by drafting Breshad Perriman and Darren Waller. Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken add youth and talent to the depth chart.

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The veteran is certainly going to take all the first-team reps, but I would not be surprised if a few other young receivers are given first-team reps near the end of OTAs and during minicamp, who regularly would not.

The Ravens do not lack depth of talent, but they do lack in experience. This offseason may not be the time when they start worrying about Smith’s retirement, but it is a time when Brown and even Aiken need to learn all they can from the veteran.

I doubt the front office wouldn’t pick up another veteran receiver, but even so, these young receivers need to absorb all the knowledge from Smith as possible. They may very well need to pass on their knowledge to the rookies next year.

The coaches or players are not going to admit to allowing this to change anything this offseason or regular season. But behind the scenes where the cameras aren’t allowed, the young guys are trying to learn a bit more, and the veteran is trying to make what could be his last moments memorable.

Next: Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco Hits Breshad Perriman On Deep Pass During OTAs