When the Panthers cut him, veteran wide receiver Steve L Smith said he was only planning on playing one more year for them anyway. Moving to Baltimore pushed that plan back a year. Via Clifton Brown of CSNBaltimore.com, the Ravens wide receiver announced that he was retiring at the end of this season. While the 36-year-old wideout is still productive (79 catches for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns), he said he’s been thinking about this for months. He came into the league as a third-rounder from Utah, and made an immediate impact for the 2001 Panthers, returning the opening kickoff of the season for a touchdown and earning Pro Bowl honors as a return man. He made five Pro Bowls total, and overcame the stigma of beating up teammate Ken Lucas during practice to become somewhat of a leader with the Panthers. Of course, he was still sort of high-maintenance, which had as much to do with his release as financial concerns.
Smith has put together an incredible career, ranking 14th on the all-time receiving yards list (13,262) and 18th in receptions (915). His fire as a player defined him, allowing him to overcome his lack of size and status to create a long and lucrative career. The Ravens are already attempting a youth movement at the position and the hope is Breshad Perriman, Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken begin to emerge this season.