Letting Torrey Smith Walk in Free Agency the Right Move


Jan 3, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith (82) enters the field before the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Even though we’ve known for quite some time that Torrey Smith was likely going to walk in free agency, it’s still a little bittersweet to watch him leave the team and the city he grew up with.  Many fans understandably hoped that he would take a hometown discount and continue to develop with the Baltimore Ravens, but as they say, money talks.

And we aren’t talking about chump change here, either.  Torrey is reportedly receiving a 5 year, $40 million dollar deal with $22 million guaranteed from the 49ers.  That’s huge bucks for a guy that most people consider nothing more than a deep threat, albeit a good one.  Torrey had his big chance to prove to the world that he wasn’t a one dimensional guy last season, and he blew it.

The 49ers obviously need help at receiver.  With Michael Crabtree hitting the market and a group of washed up veteran cast-offs behind him, they simply need guys that Colin Kaepernick can throw to. Even a once promising Vernon Davis is a shell of his former self, the team completely bereft of any sort of receiver who can challenge defenses deep.

Still, the Ravens would have to be crazy to come anywhere close to matching the kind of offer that the 49ers gave Smith.  They seemingly decided that he was worth around $7 million per year last offseason and stuck to their guns.  Sure, he cleared 1,000 yards in 2013, but he was targeted an astounding 139 times (with only 65 receptions).  His limited route tree was glaringly obvious last season as Gary Kubiak didn’t even try to send him on any curls or comebacks.

Torrey Smith isn’t the kind of guy who is going to fight for contested passes or win battles with big, physical corners.  He is a nice guy, but he doesn’t possess that mean streak or the desire to get physical that the great number one receivers do.  The Ravens (and us fans) always thought that Smith would develop into that guy, but he just never did.  And he looked more uninspired than ever in 2014.

There’s still time for Torrey Smith to develop into a more complete receiver, obviously.  He’s still young, and perhaps a fresh start will do him some good.  If he does, that $8 million per year salary the 49ers handed him will be a bargain.  If he doesn’t, it will be another classic example of a desperate team overpaying in free agency.  Either way, the Ravens have once again proven that they won’t fall victim to that trend.

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