Former Pro Bowl WR Steve Smith has announced that he's retiring from the NFL at the age of 28.
"I've been blessed to play the game that I love at the highest level for the past six years," Smith said in a statement. "I will always cherish my time with the New York Giants and our Super Bowl victory in 2007.
"I also want to thank the Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers organizations for the opportunities they gave me. This was not an easy decision, but it's the right decision for me at this time."
Smith was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft and really emerged as a star for the Giants in 2009, when he a set a franchise record for receptions. He made the Pro Bowl that year. The following season he was offered a 5 year, $35 million extension from the Giants that he turned down, instead opting to wait for free agency. Unfortunately later that season he'd suffer a pretty awful knee injury that required microfracture surgery.
He was signed by the Eagles the following season one a year deal worth upwards of $2 million. The next year he signed with the Rams but still failed to get back to anywhere near his pre-injury form. He caught just 25 passes for 1 TD (ironically against the Giants) over his time with the Eagles and Rams.
This offseason he signed with the Buccaneers, but has since decided to hang em up.
Smith really is a cautionary tale of how tough this game is. He was once one of the game's brightest young WRs, poised for a massive payday. The Giants probably offered a him a bit of a below market deal, but then again they were assuming the risk of that contract. That's why guys sign early for cheaper. To lock in their money without having to risk a major injury before they reach free agency.
Sometimes, as in the case of a guy like Mike Wallace this year, turning down that early money and taking a gamble on your health pays off.
For Steve Smith, it's a gamble that didn't.
And it's a cautionary tale of just how bad knee injuries could be. Just because Adrian Peterson came back better than ever, doesn't mean that knee aren't very serious. And the fact is that even as we've gotten better at treating these injuries most players do not recover from them.