Wide receiver Torrey Smith, one of the most beloved Ravens in team history, announced Friday morning that he’s retiring from the NFL after eight seasons.
Just hours later, he was at Ravens practice as a spectator. Smith rode off the field next to Steve Bisciotti in the owner's golf cart.
"We just saw him out here. There he is, right there," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Congratulations to Torrey. That’s an awesome thing. He’s had a tremendous career, and he’s a Maryland guy. It’s just an honor to know him and to have coached him."
Smith got his start in Baltimore and had his best years as a Raven from 2011-2014. The University of Maryland product and Colonial Beach, Va. native was the Ravens’ second-round pick in 2011, and is the most successful receiver the team has ever drafted.
Smith was an instant starter and huge part of the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII run, especially his two touchdowns against the Denver Broncos in the divisional playoffs. He posted 49 catches for 855 yards and eight touchdowns during that 2012 Super Bowl season.
Smith followed that up with a career-high 65 catches for 1,128 yards and four touchdowns in 2013, then a career-high 11 touchdowns in 2014.
Asked what stood out most to him about Smith as a player, Harbaugh said "speed."
“The first thing I remembered looking at him coming out of Maryland, he was a guy who could get down the field and then could track a ball down the field," Harbaugh said. "How many times did he out-track a corner, and either come up with the ball or get a pass-interference call, just for huge plays? I remember those plays so often. And then of course, the intangibles, the personality, the leadership, the work ethic, all of that.”
Smith was offered a mega five-year, reported $40 million deal by the San Francisco 49ers during the 2014 offseason and, with a heavy heart, uprooted his family from the Baltimore area. Smith spent two seasons with the 49ers, including a difficult 2016 campaign in which he caught 20 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns. He was released the following March.
Smith jumped to Philadelphia, where he won his second Super Bowl as a starting wide receiver for the Eagles. However, he was traded to Carolina that offseason. After he caught a career-low 17 passes for 190 yards and two scores last year, the Panthers released him on Sept. 1, at the end of training camp.
Since then, Smith has been debating his NFL future. For a person like himself, many other doors will open to make an impact outside the white lines.
Smith was beloved for much more than his on-field contributions. He was a huge presence in the Baltimore community and connected with countless more fans via social media. Smith was a highly-respected figure in the locker room, and his laugh often filled it.
“My worth as a football player was never only about numbers,” Smith said. “And if I was able to impact just one player, one kid, one person, I served my purpose.”
Smith said he plans to continue to use his platform to change the world for the better. And he plans to do it back home.
“Can’t wait to begin the next phase of my life, where my heart is and never left – Baltimore,” Smith said.
Smith is just the latest former Raven to return to Baltimore after his playing days were over. This summer, fullback Vonta Leach and running back Willis McGahee, who both had lengthy stays with other NFL teams, both returned to retire as Ravens. Harbaugh said seeing that from former players means a lot to him.
"It’s something, probably, that you’ll look back some day and really, really feel good about it," Harbaugh said. "The Ravens fans should feel that way, too. These players appreciate this community a lot.”