The Ravens got some excellent news Tuesday afternoon in the form of a New Year's resolution.
Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. announced on Twitter that he will be returning to the Ravens in 2016 for a 16th season.
Before this season began, Smith said it would be his last year in the NFL. But an Achilles injury suffered on Nov. 1 may have changed those plans.
Wit the blessing of My Family, Friends & Fans!! 2016 Let's give'em Hell #SmithWPMOYChallenge #SmithWPMOYChallenge pic.twitter.com/RxBQMHGLT2 — Steve Smith Sr (@89SteveSmith) December 30, 2015
Smith's reason for retiring was to spend more time with his family, including his wife, Angie, and their four children. That's why he specified that his decision came with the blessing of his family.
Immediately after Smith went down with the Achilles injury, Head Coach John Harbaugh and other Ravens believed he would try to make a return. It was difficult to imagine such an intense competitor letting his final moment on the field be him being carried off with a towel over his head.
"That's the kind of man he is, and he'll be back," Harbaugh said at the time. "There are more chapters to be written in this story."
"I think he might try it again," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "Nobody wants to go out like that."
Smith still has to check off the second item of his declaration of intention – getting his Achilles healthy and body back into "optimal condition." He'll turn 37 years old on May 12.
Smith showed no signs of slowing down previously, however. He was on a torrid pace before the injury with 46 catches for 670 yards and three touchdowns in eight games. That put him on pace for 92 receptions, 1,340 yards and six touchdowns on the season.
It's been a while since Smith has had to return from such a serious injury. He had only missed a collective nine games in 10 seasons prior to this year, and never more than two in a single season.
Smith broke his leg in the season opener in 2004 with the Panthers and returned the next year to post his best career season with 103 catches for 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns.
His comeback announcement is a huge boon to the Ravens in a multitude of ways. It helps to stabilize a wide receiver corps that was looking deep and talented, though quite unsettled, heading into the offseason. Smith also provides key locker room leadership and game-day fire.
At the tail end of a disappointing 2015 season, Smith's announcement comes as a delivery of hope that 2016 will be an entirely different year.