Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith will announce his retirement Monday afternoon, ending his NFL career after 11 years in Baltimore.
Smith, a 2011 first-round pick who helped secure the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII triumph, played in 128 games in Baltimore, starting 90. He finished with 14 steals, seventh-most in the league. franchise history.
Smith, 33, admitted towards the end of last season that his future in football was uncertain. He was expected to become a free agent and injuries had limited him to just 30 games from 2019 to 2021. He will be joined at a Monday press conference by coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta.
“It’s tough because I’m a football player,” Smith said ahead of the Ravens’ regular season finale in January. “I love it. Like, it’s my life, and sometimes even thinking about not playing, I’m like, ‘Ugh, I don’t want to do anything else.’ But it’s a chore, and it’s something you have to mentally prepare for. [for] the older you get. [And] having children now, all the time, they say, ‘Dad, are you still going to work? Are you going to work again?’ And it’s like, ‘I’ve been doing this all my life. I don’t know what it’s like to be free. ”
When healthy, Smith could be a tight outside cornerback, with the technique and size (6-foot-1) the Ravens have long coveted for their aggressive coverage programs. Nearly three months into the 2020 season, Pro Football Focus ranked Smith as the league’s eighth best all-around corner and ninth best in coverage – ahead of starters Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters.
But injuries quickly sidelined Smith, as they often did throughout his career. He played every game in a season only twice, and after 2015 he never made more than 12 appearances in a year. Smith treated a sprained ankle, sports hernia, Lisfranc fracture (foot), back injury, torn Achilles tendon, sprained knee, strained groin, shoulder injury, a strained hip and strained neck, among other ailments, throughout his career.
In January, Harbaugh, one of Smith’s staunchest defenders in Baltimore, recalled consoling him during his rookie year and telling him he would recover from a sports hernia in time to play. Harbaugh said he told Smith that “you’re going to be the guy who makes a difference in our season and wins us a championship.” In the Super Bowl, Smith stopped San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree from catching the touchdown pass on a fourth-and-a-base late in the fourth quarter.
“Shit if it wasn’t him in that last series that made the plays that had to be made to win the Super Bowl in that game,” Harbaugh said. “So every once in a while we talk about it and have a little laugh about it. It always stands out for me. And then throughout, he’s been through a lot personally. He’s done a great job with his family and his kids. He’s had to deal with adversity in terms of injuries and things like that, but when the time comes he still shows up and plays good football.