How can Ravens seal deal with Smith?

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
10:15
AM ET
Steve Smith's trip to meet with the Baltimore Ravens on Friday is his first. But will it be his only free-agent visit?

According to the Charlotte Observer, Smith is planning to take other visits next week. By the way Smith is talking, he is looking forward to being wooed by other teams.

"I'm going to get a few free dinners out of it at nice, expensive restaurants and see what it's [recruiting process] like," Smith said on Sirius XM's Bleacher Report Radio. "I want to enjoy and absorb this experience that, quite frankly, I will never experience again."

[+] EnlargeSteve Smith
Sam Sharpe/USA TODAY SportsThe Ravens have a lot to offer free agent receiver Steve Smith.
Smith's only reported trip is his one with the Ravens. The other teams who have been linked to Smith -- New England, Tampa Bay and San Diego -- all can be attractive destinations for Smith. New England has Tom Brady, one of the top quarterbacks in NFL history; Tampa Bay has two games against his former team on the schedule every year; and San Diego has Mike McCoy, who coached Smith for eight seasons in Carolina.

The Ravens don't want Smith to leave their lavish 200,000-square foot team facility without an agreement. So, how can the Ravens seal the deal with Smith on Friday?

Let's take a look at what the Ravens will be selling to the five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver ...

Chance for a championship: When Smith walks into the Ravens' lobby, he'll see the Lombardi Trophy the Ravens won 14 months ago. The Ravens have been one of the surest bets to make the playoffs, winning a postseason game in five of coach John Harbaugh's six seasons. He has guided Baltimore to the AFC Championship Game three times during that span. This should catch the attention of an aging veteran who hasn't won a playoff game since 2005.

Opportunity for prime role: Smith made the surprising statement Thursday that he's no longer a No. 1 wide receiver. That being said, it's hard to believe a receiver of Smith's stature doesn't want a major role in the offense. The Ravens don't have a clear-cut No. 1 target. Neither wide receiver Torrey Smith nor tight end Dennis Pitta has caught more than 65 passes in a season. Smith won't have to carry the passing game, but the Ravens can virtually guarantee he'll get as many passes thrown his way as anyone else.

Gary Kubiak's track record: The biggest change to the Ravens' offense so far this offseason has been hiring Gary Kubiak as the offensive coordinator, and the Ravens will likely promote his success of throwing the ball in Houston. Kubiak's Texans ranked in the top half of the NFL in passing offense six times over the past seven seasons, including three top-five finishes. This would be a refreshing change for Smith, who played on the NFL's fourth-worst passing attack last season.

Stability at quarterback: Joe Flacco isn't an elite NFL quarterback, and he's coming off his worst season. But Flacco was the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player a year ago. He has one of the strongest arms in the league. He also has won 71 games (including playoffs) since 2008, which is three more than any other quarterback during the span. His 14,961 yards passing are the ninth-most in the league over the past four seasons. Smith would have more stability at the quarterback position in Baltimore than he would in Tampa Bay, and he would have a quarterback with a less volatile demeanor than he would in San Diego.

Proximity: After being released by the Panthers, Smith made it clear how strong his ties are to North Carolina. "I plan to grow old with my wife in the Charlotte community, and I plan on being buried in the Charlotte community," Smith said. Of his prospective teams, Baltimore is the closest to his adopted hometown. If Smith doesn't want to be that far from Charlotte, this could be a big advantage for the Ravens over New England and San Diego.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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