Jan 12, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith (89) walks on to the field prior to the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Rumors: Steve Smith says he's going to retire in 2016

When the Carolina Panther cut wide receiver Steve Smith, who was the most recognizable figure the franchise had ever called their own until the Cam Newton era, it apparently rekindle the fire that was starting to fade within him. Smith bolted up to Baltimore to sign a three-year contract with the Ravens that keeps in there until 2016 but his career might have gone very differently — and still might — had he remained in Carolina.

Smith spoke with Don Banks of SI.com and noted that had he remained with the Panthers, he was planning on retiring after this upcoming season.

Now that he was cut and has moved on to Baltimore, Smith is going to play out his contract with the Ravens and now plans on retiring after the 2016 season when his contract is up.

After this contract with the Baltimore Ravens, I am done,” Smith said. “I’m going to be stay-at-home dad, and I’m going to get on with the rest of my life’s work. I know sometimes there are people saying, ‘Oh, he needs to just let it go.’ Believe me, I will. I’m going to let it go. But I’m going to take a few people down with me. Not in spite, but just fun. I’m going to enjoy playing ball again. I’m going to have fun here.”

The most interesting part about all of this isn’t that Smith is going to retire whenever the Ravens are done with him — whether that’s in 2016 or the nix his deal sooner — but rather that he was planning on hanging it up after 2014.

Not only does this tell us that the end is no doubt near for Smith, but that he felt so wronged by the Panthers that he actually added longevity to his career. Whether that translates to on-field success is yet to be seen but it only enhances the already incredible story of Smith’s late career surge.

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Tags: Baltimore Ravens Carolina Panthers