Steve Smith confessed Thursday that he had never been fired from a job before. His time among the ranks of the unemployed didn’t last long. The Baltimore Ravens signed the receiver, who turns 35 before the start of the regular season, on Friday a day after the Carolina Panthers released him.
Smith, the all-time Panthers leader in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns, advised fans to don goggles should he ever return to Bank of America Stadium because there would be “blood and guts” everywhere. The face of the franchise won’t be traveling to Charlotte for a game. But the Panthers will travel to Baltimore for an inter-conference match-up with the Ravens in 2014.
The move recalls somewhat the Ravens signing of Derrick Mason after the 2004 season. A longtime member of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise, Mason nevertheless enjoyed a late-career renaissance with Baltimore, ultimately becoming the team’s all-time leading receiver. The Ravens hope they can replicate the production the 31-year-old Mason provided over six seasons with team with the signing of a similarly accomplished but aging Smith. Whereas Mason still played at his peak when he signed with the Ravens, Smith appears on the way down. The five-time Pro Bowler nevertheless boasted solid numbers last season by catching 64 balls for 745 yards.
“I weigh 186. I have not since last Tuesday missed a day of workouts,” he explained about free agency to a Charlotte radio station yesterday. The team that signs him, the receiver maintained, is “going to get the best, in-shape 35-year-old guy that they can get. And if that happens to run through Bank of America Stadium, put your goggles on because there is going to be blood and guts everywhere.”