It’s been a while since I’ve seen him referred to in headlines as “the other Steve Smith.” Then again, there haven’t been a lot of headline mentions in the last few years for the former Giants Pro Bowler whose career as fizzled since he left the team as a free agent just prior to the 2011 season. In two seasons since he signed with the Eagles and then the Rams he has played in 18 games and caught 25 passes for 255 yards and a touchdown.
Would his career have taken such a downturn had he stuck with the Giants? I don’t know. Probably. He had a very significant knee injury in 2010. And he’s still only 27 years old (28 next month), so maybe he can recapture the glory he had with the Giants. The headlines that featured him today, by the way, were for him signing a one-year deal with the Bucs (and former Giants WR coach turned Tampa Bay OC Mike Sullivan).
But Smith is one of the many examples of players who the Giants have turned their backs on, noses up at, or simply refused to pay above what they believed to be the market value only to later be vindicated. It’s pretty hard to find a former Giants player who was spurned by the team and has gone elsewhere to find success. Ryan Clark? Ryan Grant? Barry Cofield? Kurt Warner? For every one of those there are many others like Mario Manningham, Brandon Jacobs, Kevin Boss, Derrick Ward, Derrick Hagan, and yes Steve Smith whose days in the NFL– for one reason or another – have never been as bright as they were when they were with the Giants. Others they have moved on from never even had other sniffs at the league despite believing they had some play left in them: Shaun O'Hara, Kareem McKenzie, Deon Grant, etc.
Now there’s a whole new crop who can try to change that thinking and put their names on either side of the ledger. Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty, Ahmad Bradshaw. Will the Giants regret not keeping them around? Or did they cut bait just in time?
Anyway, it wasn’t too long ago that Steve Smith seemed irreplaceable and was shedding the idea of being “the other” Steve Smith.