Steve Smith's time on the open market didn't last long, as he reached an agreement on a three-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens just one day after he was released by the Carolina Panthers on Thursday. While Smith had offers for other visits, including ones from the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, his free agency tour ended right where it began.
While Smith's best days might be behind him, Jason Butt of SB Nation's Ravens blog, Baltimore Beatdown, thinks he should be plenty capable of helping the team's passing game:
SB Nation NFL
SB Nation NFL
This move addresses two pressing needs for a slot receiver and a veteran presence in the locker room. In a recent radio interview, Smith acknowledged he's no longer a No. 1 receiver. But he still has plenty left in the tank. He's also a physical receiver with speed, despite his 5-9 stature, and should be able to aid Joe Flacco and the passing game.
The three-year deal is worth $11 million and has a $3.5 million signing bonus, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. The deal also sets up the "blood and guts" game, as Smith will have a chance to face his old team at some point during the 2014 season when the Ravens play host to the Panthers.
Here is other free agency news you may have missed on Friday:
After 11 seasons with the Chicago Bears, cornerback Charles Tillman is back for another go, as the team announced a one-year deal with the two-time Pro Bowler. It's welcome news for Chicago fans, and Kev H of SB Nation's Bears blog, Windy City Gridiron, called it "the best news of the day:"
In his career he has 40 forced fumbles(!), 36 interceptions, 9 touchdowns, 737 tackles. He's the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner, due to his outstanding character and charity on and off the field. He's an all around good dude.
Tillman has played in 154 career games with the Bears, including eight for the team in 2013 before suffering a torn triceps. Terms of the one-year deal have not yet been announced.
Former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith is heading south, reaching an agreement on a four-year deal worth $14.25 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With an average of less than $4 million per year, it's a relatively cheap deal for Tampa Bay, which will receive a starter who is still only 27 years old.
Sander Philipse of SB Nation's Buccaneers blog, Bucs Nation, lauded the deal as one that should instantly impact the team's interior offensive line:
SB Nation NFL
SB Nation NFL
The former Packer's versatility, intelligence and ability to move in space should fit perfectly with the Bucs' apparent new philosophy on the offensive line. Dietrich-Smith could play right guard or center, with center/guard Jeremy Zuttah presumably taking the other spot. There's also a small chance Zuttah would be released, as Dietrich-Smith is a slightly cheaper and probably slightly better player. But the Bucs lack depth along the offensive line, making this unlikely.
Dietrich-Smith started all 16 games at center for the Green Bay Packers in 2013 and has played in 61 career games since originally joining the team as an undrafted free agent in 2009.
The San Francisco 49ers did not elect to open up the pocketbook much to help the cornerback position, and instead went for a discount deal with former Minnesota Vikings defensive back Chris Cook. While terms of the deal have not yet been announced, other than the fact that it's a one-year deal, David Fucillo of SB Nation's 49ers blog, Niners Nation, anticipates that it is likely a minimum contract.
Cook is a guy who did not reach his potential in Minnesota. He had some early off-the-field issues (a domestic assault charge on which he was acquitted), and he generally has just not been a particularly good cornerback recently.
Cook gets a chance to work with 49ers secondary coach Ed Donatell, and hopefully he can take advantage of his sizable wing span. When he came out for the draft in 2010, he was viewed as a guy who could play very physical press coverage, but some of his fundamentals, including footwork, needed some work.
Cook started 23 games for the Vikings over the past two seasons, but never lived up to the potential that made him a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.