Steve Smith Sr. made it clear before the season started that this would be his last season in the NFL. At the age of 36 and 15 years at the professional level, Smith has the numbers that make him Hall of Fame worthy. The one thing that is missing from his resume is that elusive Super Bowl ring.
Statistically, he has done everything you can ask for from a wide receiver. He’s the Carolina Panthers all-time leader in receptions (836), receiving yards (12,197) and touchdowns (67). He earned the “Triple Crown” of receiving in 2005, leading the NFL with 1,563 receiving yards on 103 receptions and 12 touchdowns. The only other players in NFL history to earn the honor are Sterling Sharpe and the GOAT, Jerry Rice. He’s also the active leader in all-purpose yardage with 18,221 yards.
Smith almost had the taste of a Super Bowl victory in 2003 when the Carolina Panthers advanced to Super Bowl XXXVIII. Smith has a key factor in the game with four catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. The Panthers were beat by a game-winning Adam Vinatieri as time expired to give the New England Patriots their second championship in three years.
Since that 2003 season, Smith has been back to the playoffs just four times with each season ending in a divisional round loss. His best opportunity for a chance to head back to a Super Bowl could have been last season as the Ravens twice had the Patriots down by 14 points, but couldn’t hold on.
Many were hopeful that the 2015 season would have been the year that Smith would get his ring. Before the season started, Terrell Suggs made some a bold statement that many around the league thought might actually come true.
“Remember what happened the last time we had a player like this retire? Steve Smith is one hell of a guy and maybe we can send him out with something special.”
Well the Ravens have virtually no shot of sending him out in style, so why not ship him to a contender?
In some witty banter between some friends yesterday, the idea of Smith being dealt to the Green Bay Packers came about. My good friend Nick (@cudaball) is a die-hard Packers fan and came up with this scenario:
Sure enough, by 9:00 last night, ProFootballTalk had a piece online about trading Smith to a contending team. He even mentioned Maybe Mike Florio has been tapping into our phones.
The idea makes sense. The Ravens have virtually no shot of making the playoffs unless they can some how miraculously win out the remainder of their schedule. With how this current team has been playing, that’s not going to happen.
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There are plenty of contending teams that could use a wide out of Smith’s caliber. The aforementioned Packers are certainly one of them. They have been hit with a lot of injuries in their passing game and could use a veteran target with the fire to always want to win. The NFC East is wide open for all four teams and any could make a push to go for it all by acquiring Smith.
The Panthers could use a veteran wide receiver, but they seemed to have burned that bridge when they let Smith go last offseason. He made sure to get his revenge against his former team last season with a 139-yard and two touchdown game in a 38-10 thrashing by the Ravens.
The dark horse team in this situation is the Seattle Seahawks. They are off to another slow start at 2-4, however, last season they showed us that it is not how you start, but how you finish. The addition of Jimmy Graham hasn’t worked out as planned just yet, but an offense that could feature Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Graham and Smith would be one of the more potent offenses in the league.
For the Ravens, it’s a chance to start over. While there is still 10 games to play, the season is essentially done already. Any postseason chances are basically nil. Baltimore would be wise to use this down season as an opportunity to get their young roster to see increased reps.
Baltimore would likely get a late draft pick in return for Smith. He will be gone next season with nothing in return otherwise. It’s also a sign of good faith from the Ravens to let the veteran have one more crack at a potential Super Bowl run.
It would have been nice if the Ravens could have sent Smith off in style, but there is little to no chance of that happening. The next best thing they can do for themselves and Smith is sending him to a winning team. It makes sense for everyone.
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