Steve Smith is done with football. In 2016, that is. Per reports, the Baltimore Ravens top wide receiver has made it known that the 2015 NFL season will be his final time suiting up at the highest level, and that he’ll officially retire after the year is through.
Ravens WR Steve Smith announces that this, his 15th season, will be his last. He’s retiring at seasons end.
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) August 10, 2015
It’s a mildly surprising move, but Smith has been hinting towards an inevitable end for the past few years and has seemingly continued his playing career to this point for two big reasons: to try to win a Super Bowl and to prove his doubters wrong.
The Ravens could have a shot at winning it all this year and giving Smith the “Ray Lewis treatment”, but even if they can’t, Smith remains pretty close to the top of his game and will look to go out on as high of a note as he can. Smith looked to be just about done with the Carolina Panthers in 2013, but departed from the team and latched on with the Ravens last summer, quickly establishing himself as a still feared offensive weapon.
Smith rode a hot start to a solid 79-1,065-6 line in his first season with the Ravens, but did tail off considerably after week six. That, or teams just adjusted and decided to try to take him away. For what it’s worth, Smith was a pretty strong WR2 in fantasy football across the 2014 season, and still gets it done pretty well for a 36-year old who relies on speed and quickness to win against cornerbacks. Smith isn’t quite as explosive as he used to be, but he’s plenty spry and can still win with the right matchup. He didn’t end 2014 on a dominant run, but 25 total receptions over his last four games isn’t exactly a crater job, either.
Baltimore went out and drafted big play-making receiver Breshad Perriman in this year’s draft, but he’s struggled to stay healthy and is still fairly raw. That should help Smith hold onto the #1 gig with ease and similar numbers to what we saw last year aren’t out of reach. Due to age, a new offensive scheme and Perriman’s presence, though, it’s probably wise to bet on Smith more as a strong WR3 in 2015 fantasy football leagues.