Former New York Giants’ WR Steve Smith announced his retirement from the NFL yesterday, calling it quits because of injuries. Smith had a promising start to his career after being drafted in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft out of USC. Smith was overshadowed at USC by WR Dwayne Jarrett, but he would end up having a better pro career than Jarrett.
Smith helped the Giants win the Super Bowl in his rookie season, then two seasons later, led the NFC in receptions with 107. It appeared Smith was heading towards a long-term deal with the Giants in the eventual future, but micro-fracture surgery on his knee in 2010 ruined his career. His former teammate S Kenny Phillips had micro-fracture surgery in 2009, but was able to return for the 2010 season and beyond.
The Giants didn’t seem to trust that Smith would be ready for the 2011 season. Therefore, the Giants only offered him a one-year deal worth $2 million. Smith angrily accepted a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles that was double the amount. Smith also returned sooner than most expected, and suited up for the Week 3 matchup between the Eagles and Giants, which just so happened to be the coming-out party for WR Victor Cruz.
The rest is history for Smith, as he went to the St. Louis Rams for the 2012 season and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the upcoming season before deciding his knee wasn’t going to allow him to play any further.
The same case might occur with current Giants’ CB Terrell Thomas. Thomas has had numerous ACL tears and surgeries, so this upcoming season is most likely his last shot to see if he can continue playing much longer. Thomas, teammates with Smith at USC, was a second round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and was emerging as the top corner for the Giants before tearing his ACL in the preseason in 2011.
Thomas was set to return for the 2012 season, but an issue with his ACL during the offseason prompted another operation, keeping him out for that season as well. This is Thomas’ last chance to prove he can have a long and effective career. If he isn’t able to hold up without any ACL issues, he’ll most likely be announcing his retirement next offseason.