Steve Smith had 64 catches for 745 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. Excluding the Jimmy Clausen season and his injury plagued 2004 season, those were his worst since his rookie year in 2001. That’s just what happens to receivers this age. Even the average top-20 receiver (in terms of yardage all-time) has his last 1000 yard season at age 34-35, averages 48 catches for 594 yards and 3 touchdowns for 2 more seasons after age 34-35, and is done playing by age 36-37.
Steve Smith is 19th in all-time receiving yards yardage, but he’s also going into his age 35 season. That’s why it’s risky to give him a 3-year 10.5 million dollar deal, even if only the first year’s salary of 4.5 million is guaranteed, and why it was a good idea for the Panthers to cut him, even if they were incredibly thin at wide receiver. Even a 1-year, 4.5 million dollar deal for Steve Smith is too much, even for a wide receiver needy team like the Ravens. Steve Smith has had a great career, but there’s a chance he just falls off a cliff in terms of his abilities in his age 35 season.