Wide receiver Steve Smith announced that the 2015 NFL season will be his final year of professional football on Monday. According NFL.com, the Baltimore Ravens wide out stated that he “feels like this is the best place. “If this is going to end, this will be the best place to end.”
Smith played his first 13 NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers, after being drafted in the third round. However, he was let go by the only team he knew during the 2013 off season. Instead of retiring with the team that drafted him in 2001, Smith found a new home in Baltimore. There, he caught 79 passes for 1065 yards, and six touchdowns last season. Smith had 15 more receptions than his 64 catches with the Panthers two years ago.
Overall, Smith has 75 touchdowns from scrimmage, with 73 of them coming through the air. He added four punt return touchdowns as well. After only starting one game as a rookie, Smith only played in seven games where he wasn’t the starting receiver since. For the most part, Smith has been durable, but still only played all 16 games four times in his career. However, he played in 14 or more games in 13 of his 14 NFL seasons. In 2004, Smith was injured in Week 1, and only caught six passes that season.
Coming into the season, Smith has 915 catches for 13,262 yards. If he gets 85 more receptions, Smith will reach the 1000 catch milestone. That occurrence would likely happen in his final game. He’s only surpassed 85 catches three times in his career.
Smith is a five-time Pro Bowler, so his career has really been filled with great plays, but he’s also looking for another trip to the Super Bowl. If his opponents think he’s planning on taking it easy, they have this announcement all wrong. “I think it’s always easier when you know you have a finish line,” Smith added. “You get to let things loose … it’s just, man, whatever happens, let the chips fall where they may.” It sounds like Smith is planning to play as hard as he ever played. That’s good news for the Ravens’ offense.
With the annual Hall Of Fame ceremony fresh in our minds, there will be an interesting debate about Smith’s place with the greatest receivers. At 5’9” his height never scared opponents, but his demeanor and attitude put many defensive backs in a bind. NFL.com reveals that Smith is 14th all-time in receiving yards, and 18th in receptions. Although Smith is only 33rd in touchdown receptions, another strong season could put him on the right side of NFL history.