The door is open for Steve Smith Sr. to return in 2016, but a decision hasn't been made.
Head Coach John Harbaugh spoke with Smith after Sunday's 29-26 win over the Chargers, then again on Monday. He said he hasn't gotten a final answer on whether Smith will retire.
Before the season began, Smith announced that this, his 15th year, would be his last. However, he's under contract for one more season and may not want to end his career due to an injury.
After watching the 36-year-old Smith yet again excel while seemingly having so much fun, there were questions as to whether he would change his mind. And that was before an Achilles tear tragically ended his season, and potentially his career.
Harbaugh announced that Smith will undergo surgery on his torn Achilles next week. Dr. Robert Anderson, a renowned surgeon, is scheduled to perform the repair in Charlotte, near Smith's family residence. Smith will be immobilized for at least six weeks before beginning his rehab.
"Then we'll just take it from there," Harbaugh said.
"He didn't express any decisions to me one way or the other. Probably it's too emotional of a time right now to make any decision like that. He'll make those decisions in due time, I'm sure."
Harbaugh was asked if he'll try to persuade Smith to return. He said the team "absolutely" wants him back. Smith leads the Ravens with 46 catches for 670 yards and three touchdowns and has been an emotional and beloved leader.
"I'll respect him and we'll see where it goes," Harbaugh said. "He's a great player. It's really up to him."
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported Monday afternoon that Smith is having a quick surgery on Nov. 9 with "intentions of playing football next season."
La Canfora reports that several people close to Smith said he is already talking about a return.
On Sunday night, immediately after speaking with Smith in the Ravens' emotional postgame locker room, Harbaugh suggested that he thought Smith would return.
"I have a feeling Steve Smith [Sr.] will be back," Harbaugh said. "I love him, respect him, admire him. I told him that. That's the kind of man he is, and he'll be back."
When pressed to explain the source of his confidence that Smith would be back, Harbaugh relayed a story from when Smith was at Harbaugh's house when first signing with Baltimore last offseason. Harbaugh told him he would "write the final chapters of his career in a way that nobody expects."
Nobody wants Smith's final chapter to be of him writhing in pain on the field.
In the locker room after Sunday's game, Harbaugh went back to that memory.
"I said, 'Hey, we'll be back at work tomorrow. We'll see you tomorrow. There are more chapters to be written in this story,'" Harbaugh said.
For now, the Ravens will move on without their top receiver.
Kamar Aiken assumes the No. 1 spot with Marlon Brown, Chris Givens and Jeremy Ross competing for snaps on the opposite side. Jeremy Butler will also likely see an increased role after being inactive the past two weeks. Rookie first-round pick Breshad Perriman is still on the mend.
None of those receivers have half of the production Smith has this season, but they did impress, at least in the first half, in Week 5 against the Browns when Smith was sidelined with back microfractures. And they did enough to beat the Chargers Sunday.
"You move on to the next players and the players will be expected to step up and play at the highest possible level," Harbaugh said.
"We're never going to use excuses, we're never going to say we have enough firepower or ammunition. We're never going to say that because we don't believe it. We always believe we have players in the pipeline that can get the job done."