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Friday, March 14, 2014
Ravens kept Steve Smith away from Patriots

By Jamison Hensley

Not only did the Baltimore Ravens make their offense better by signing Steve Smith, they kept the five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver away from one of their AFC rivals.

Smith decided to cancel his trip to the New England Patriots and reached a three-year, $11 million contract with the Ravens on Friday.

How interested were the Patriots? Smith spoke to New England coach Bill Belichick on the way to the airport before his flight to Baltimore on Thursday night.

"We had a conversation that indicated that they were very interested in me," Smith said in a conference call Friday. "I was very open to go there as well. I really felt like after sitting here [in Baltimore] that this was the place that I felt best fit me, and they convinced me that I would fit in here very well."

Smith learned how many teams wanted him when the Carolina Panthers released him Thursday.

According to Smith, the San Diego Chargers had an offer on the table. Chargers head coach Mike McCoy had coached Smith for eight years in Carolina.

The Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins also expressed interest, Smith said.

"It's not really a value of how many other teams were in the mix," Smith said. "The thing that's the most important that I found a home that seems to want me."

On Thursday, Smith said he intended to take visits next week because he wanted to enjoy the recruitment part of free agency. But the Ravens did a tremendous job of selling themselves in two days with Smith.

"One thing that they said that was consistent was we want you to be yourself," Smith said. "That was good. That was very encouraging."