Will Ravens Try To Talk Steve Smith Out Of Retirement?
Steve Smith Sr. sure sounded like his mind was made up when he announced this would be the final season of his 15-year career.
But if there is any room for doubt – any at all – would the Ravens try to convince him to play just one more year?
ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen said they wouldn't be shocked if an attempt was made.
The topic came up in an article last week, before the Ravens' first win of the season, about the team potentially trading Smith if its season continued to slide. Never say never, but that would never, ever, ever happen. Right?
"A member of the organization says that would never happen because 'even if the team is 0-15, Harbaugh will still be fighting and he will want Steve Smith fighting right by his side,'" wrote Schefter and Mortensen.
"And there's another reason not to trade Smith: don't be surprised if the Ravens try to keep him around for another season."
Smith is playing in the second year of the original three-year deal he signed with the Ravens in March of 2014. His reported 2016 cap hit would be the same as this year: $4.17 million. Considering Smith was the NFL's third-leading receiver with 25 catches for 349 yards prior to getting hurt last week in Pittsburgh, I'd say he's well worth the money.
He's shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, the opposite is true. Smith is on pace for 116 catches and 188 targets, which would be the most of his career. Obviously if he misses Sunday's tilt against Cleveland, or any other games, that pace would drop, but it's a sign that the 36-year-old veteran has plenty of juice left in those legs.
The thing is, even if the Ravens wanted to change Smith's mind, he's shown to be pretty strong-willed. Schefter and Mortensen reported that Smith refused to take any practice time off on a short week before heading to Pittsburgh for Thursday Night Football even "despite Ravens coach John Harbaugh's willingness to rest veterans when they need it. Smith never takes a rest."
Smith seemed unbendable coming into this season when he talked about his desire to spend more time with his family. He was clearly unhappy during the Ravens-Eagles joint training camp practice when he missed his wife's birthday for the 15th consecutive year. (Although, I bet the Ravens would gladly give him that day off if it meant another year in a Ravens uniform). Smith said he also wanted to go out on his terms, when he was still playing at a high level and couldn't be pushed out of the game.
But you never know. Anything could happen. If he changed his mind, Smith wouldn't be the first NFL player to do so.
In the end, this is all fun to dream about. Another year with Smith would be wonderful, but first thing's first. He has to get back on the field THIS season after he left Thursday's game with microfractures in his back. And even though the Ravens are 1-3, there's still plenty of football to be played and Baltimore isn't done yet.
"[Smith] will continue to scratch and claw with his team, hoping to get a second crack at a championship," wrote Schefter and Mortensen.
A Sliver Of Hope? Or Semantics?
It seemed like a certainty that Smith would miss Sunday's game against the Browns because … well … Harbaugh told CSN Saturday that Smith wouldn't play. But then Harbaugh opened the door of possibility again last night.
"He's week-to-week," Harbaugh said. "There's no official ruling. I saw a place that said I officially ruled him out. I don't think I'm able to do that, to be honest with you. That has to be on the injury report. … I've got my own thoughts on it, as I stated, but I'm just telling you there's a process to it, as far as the official process."
Sooooo, what does that mean?
"Semantics?" tweeted The Baltimore's Jon Meoli tweeted. "A sliver of hope?"
Gillmore's Curious Tweet About Pitta
Tight end Crockett Gillmore saw a Twitter conversation amongst fans that essentially said the Ravens tight ends corps is going to be amazing once it gets more experience.
It's led by Gillmore, a first-year starter, and two rookies in second-round pick Maxx Williams (the youngest player on the team) and fifth-round pick Nick Boyle.
Gillmore responded to the fans' analysis with this:
Pitta is currently on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and, by rule, must remain there through the first six weeks of the season. The first game he's eligible to play is Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Even though the rules would allow Pitta to play at that time, that doesn't necessarily mean doctors will clear him after his second hip injury in as many years. But maybe Gillmore knows something we don't?
On another note, Gillmore wins the "Best T-shirt of the Night" award from last night's A Purple Evening event at M&T Bank Stadium.
Zrebiec: Time For Flacco To Carry Team
Quarterback Joe Flacco knows only these four receivers will be healthy enough for Sunday's contest: newly acquired Chris Givens, journeyman Kamar Aiken, former undrafted rookie Marlon Brown and sixth-round rookie Darren Waller. Two rookie tight ends are guaranteed too.
That's because his receiving corps has been decimated:
Smith – OUT (unless Harbs really was giving a sliver of hope)
Perriman – OUT
Pitta – OUT
Gillmore – HAS A CHANCE
Michael Campanaro – OUT
What does this mean for Flacco?
"[H]e will need to carry the offense," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "It's obvious that the Ravens are lacking playmakers and that's not Flacco's fault. But the game's top quarterbacks raise the level of the personnel around them and the Ravens need Flacco to do that, now more than ever."
Ross Should Be Top Returner Candidate
Not only did the offense lose two playmakers in Smith and Campanaro, but the special teams unit did too. They were the top two returners on the team.
There are several candidates to fill in, including Lardarius Webb on punt returns, and Chris Givens, Lorenzo Taliaferro and Javorius Allen all have experience returning kickoffs.
But the person that might be the best fit is sitting on the practice squad.
"The better solution is promoting Jeremy Ross from the practice squad to become the team's return specialist," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "The Ravens added the former Detroit Lions returner as a fallback option, and this certainly qualifies."
The problem is the Ravens would have to cut somebody from the 53-man roster to make room for Ross. Who would that person be? The team is already hurting for spots, as it was forced to move Campanaro, who had a four-week injury, to injured reserve.
- The Maryland Lottery conducted its live drawing last night from M&T Bank Stadium at A Purple Evening. [YouTube]