As soon as the topic of a contract extension was brought up, the Ravens star receiver made it clear that he is not focused on getting a long-term deal heading into the final season of his rookie contract.
“No way I’m thinking about that,” Smith said. “That’s the furthest thing from my mind. Guys get caught up in that stuff, but I’m not really the guy to get caught up in things that I can’t control.
“I signed a four-year deal, so for me to be like, ‘Hey, they could extend me.’ Why would I even think about something that I can’t control? We don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Smith is coming off the best season of his career, where he caught 65 passes for 1,128 yards and four touchdowns. He was the Ravens’ most explosive and consistent offensive weapon, and he finished just 73 yards shy of the franchise record for receiving yards in a season.
Smith, 24, has established himself as one of the top young receivers in the game. He ranked 17th in the NFL in overall receiving yards, and only two of the players ahead of him are younger. With the kind of production the Ravens have received from him, Smith is at the point where some players look for an extension rather than playing out the final year of a rookie contract.
The Ravens could offer Smith an extension this offseason, but he plans on playing out his current deal regardless of potential contract talks.
“I know I’m here to play,” Smith said. “I know I’m going to be here next season, so that’s the only thing I worry about. I’m trying to be the best I can be for the Ravens, and hopefully down the road that’s something that will be addressed and I’ll still be right here.
“This is where I want to be, everybody knows that, so I’m not really worried about that. I just have to worry about this season.”
During his time in Baltimore, Smith has emerged as one of the offensive leaders and this year he took over for veteran Anquan Boldin as an elder voice of the receiving group.
“It was a new challenge for me,” Smith said. “I was thankful for the opportunity and I’m going to embrace it even more going into this year. It’s different being that we’re all young, and we’re all still growing and all still getting better together.
“It’s not about necessarily me as an individual being a macho guy. We’re all young and we’re all focused on being the best players we can be. And we can do that together without one person feeling like they’re superior to anyone else. And we’re all in it together and we’re going to be working our tails off this offseason.”
The receiving corps could go through some transition this offseason, as
Head Coach John Harbaugh also indicated that the Ravens may add another receiver through free agency or the draft. Whoever the Ravens end up adding to the mix, Smith will still likely be the cornerstone of the group.
Smith now heads into his first offseason without a trip to the playoffs, and the sour ending to the season has him eager to do more next year.
“It wasn’t the best year, and it wasn’t the worst year,” he said. “It happened to be my best statistical year. I’ve gotten better, which is definitely a positive. But it’s a lot that I left out there, and I feel like that every year. I feel like that every year since I started playing football. But it’s the truth.
“But it’s motivated me for next year. I know what’s right there and I know what I have to go out there and do.”