The drama surrounding Steve Smith's departure from Carolina -- and subsequent signing with Baltimore -- left many Panthers frustrated. But it left Smith, who now says he was planning to retire after 2014, renewed.
"The only people who knew were my close friends and my wife,'' Smith said. "This year was actually going to be my last year in Carolina. I was going to retire. I was done. I had been waking up every day about 3 a.m. and wrestling with some things in my quiet time.
"I finally decided and made the commitment to my family. I told them, 'I'm done. I don't think I can do it much longer. My knee was sore and I knew all the work I had put into my career and what it would take. I came to terms with it, that this year was going to be my last year ever playing football.''
And then Carolina cut him and Smith, long known for being able to grip a grudge harder than a football, felt "a certain way." (Hint: not happy.)
"When I got released, and how it happened, it made me feel a certain way,'' Smith said. "It gave me a little bit maybe that I had been missing. My wife said, 'How do you feel about that?' And my response was to start working out again every day after that. I started jogging, my knee started feeling better, and the next thing you know, I got a three-year deal here."
Smith added after his three years in Baltimore he is "done" and plans to become a "stay-at-home dad."
Considering he'll be pushing 40 by then (Smith just turned 35 so he'll turn 38 after the deal runs up), it's a safe bet Smith will be out of the game. If he can produce at a "bottom line level" for the full three years in Baltimore, the Ravens will end up with a steal on their hands.