Steve Smith had a promising career ahead of him when he was drafted by the Giants 51st overall in the 2007 draft. He was an explosive prospect who clocked 4.31 in the 40 yard dash and fulfilled his promise starting in the 2008 postseason, when he was a key part of the Giants’ victory in Superbowl XLII. But with the departure of Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, the Giants looked thin at receiver in the 2009 season.
Steve Smith seized the opportunity, setting the all-time Giants’ single-season receiving record when he notched 107 receptions for 1,220 yards and 7 TDs. During his record-setting campaign, Smith often worked in the slot with Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham mostly working outside the numbers. Unfortunately, knee troubles have plagued Smith since he left New York. He signed with the Eagles for the 2011 season but saw little action before being put on IR with a knee issue. In 2012 he played with St Louis, appearing in 9 games but starting only twice. The Rams targeted Smith 23 times and he hauled in only 14 catches for 131 yards.
In 2010 Smith had microfracture surgery and mosaicplasty on his left knee. In these complex operations, doctors create small breaks in the bone to encourage the creation of new soft tissue to help strengthen and stabilize the knee. Since this procedure Smith has 25 total catches and unless his healing has been delayed, which is a distinct possibility, he may have lost some of his burst and may not be able to take the pounding of an entire NFL season.
If he is healthy and can regain even eighty percent of his old form, Smith could be a valuable contributor and role player for Tampa Bay. Although the Bucs have Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams as able starters on the outside, their possible third receivers include Chris Owusu, Kevin Ogletree, and Tiquan Underwood. None of these players have the same experience and history that Smith has. Smith’s addition to the Bucs makes sense, though, because he carries no risk. He signed for one year at the league minimum, meaning he has to fight hard to even make the roster. Bucs fans everywhere have to hope that Smith can miraculously regain his old form and provide the steady third-down option they need to help take the pressure off Josh Freeman. Smith’s signing will probably have no impact on the Bucs’ draft plans, because he is questionable to even make the final roster. But if he does make the final roster, Buccaneers’ fans could see a very strong trio of receivers to give Josh Freeman even more options than he had in 2012.