OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Torrey Smith is drawing rave reviews from coaches and teammates as he enters his fourth training camp. But will this be the fleet-footed wide receiver's final summer in a Baltimore Ravens uniform?
Smith, 25, is the most high-profile Ravens player who is entering the final year of his contract. The entire Ravens front office -- from owner Steve Bisciotti to general manager Ozzie Newsome to coach John Harbaugh -- has expressed a desire to get Smith signed to a contract extension.
The fact that Smith is eight months away from being an unrestricted free agent doesn't seem to bother him.
"I don’t think about the contract at all. Every year’s important; I want to win," Smith said. "That stuff kind of takes care of itself. I’m not going to be out there on the field while I’m running a route like, ‘Man, Ozzie saw that!’ I’m a Raven -- always going to be a Raven. That’s all I worry about.”
Smith is scheduled to make $837,168 in the final year of his rookie deal. The Ravens could keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent by using the franchise tag, although it came with a hefty $12.3 million price tag for wide receivers in 2014.
There are several wide receivers who are scheduled to become free agents next offseason. Smith was rated No. 6 in that receiver free-agent class by ESPN Insider Mike Sando.
"In my opinion, he’s a premier player in the National Football League," coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s going to have a breakout season, and I’m excited. I’m excited about every single guy we have -- Torrey Smith, as much as anybody, obviously, because he works his rear end off. You have to pull the guy back. You have to grab him and say, ‘Hey, man. Take a blow!’ You have to do that, because he’s like a horse -- he’ll run himself until his heart explodes."
Where Smith's hard work has really paid off is as a route runner, according to quarterback Joe Flacco.
"I was never quite comfortable throwing a little stop route to [Smith early on] when the [defender] was playing bump on him or something like that," Flacco said. "I think I was 100 percent with him these OTAs and minicamp, and I feel really comfortable. I don’t know what it is. I don’t [know] if something is hitting his brain a little differently there, or something like that, but that’s just an example of him kind of getting a better understanding for some things and running some things a little better.”
Smith has shown each year that he gets better and better. Whether his improvement will continue to come as a Raven remains to be seen.