Everybody knew Torrey Smith was a goner. That doesn’t mean Eagles fans should be quick to forget the veteran wide receiver, either.
The team may not have won the Super Bowl without him.
Was Smith the oft-targeted vertical threat the Eagles envisioned? Almost certainly not. Was he the second or third or even fourth option throughout last season? Can’t honestly say that.
Are the Eagles going to miss Torrey Smith?
Maybe a little.
Traded to the Panthers for Daryl Worley on Friday, Smith’s departure was preordained. Known as somewhat of a one-trick pony, it was going to be difficult to live up to the $5 million salary he was paid. The Eagles are up against the salary cap, and he signed a contract that acted as a series of one-year deals, making for a convenient break.
Smith wasn’t even elite in the one area he was supposed to make a difference – going deep. The 29-year-old finished 2017 with 36 receptions for 430 yards, a pedestrian 11.9 average, two touchdowns, and a string of memorable dropped passes.
It was not the type of campaign that endears a professional athlete to the masses, least of all in the city of Philadelphia. Yet, when it mattered most, Smith delivered.
During the regular season, Smith was frequently irrelevant or seemingly absent from the game plan entirely. Once the playoffs rolled around, however, he was the No. 2 wideout the Eagles thought they were getting all along.
Smith racked up 13 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown in three postseason games, making at least one notable play in each.
Against the Falcons, Smith’s awareness proved key, turning a deflected pass into a 20-yard catch to help set up a key field goal before halftime. He made one of the plays of the year against the Vikings, hauling in a 41-yard flea-flicker and staying inbounds to cap a rout in the NFC Championship. Then in the Super Bowl, Smith set the tone on the Eagles’ opening drive with a 15-yard helmet catch reminiscent of David Tyree – arguably one of the 10 biggest plays of the game.
By the time the season was over, any frustrations there might’ve been with Smith’s performance were addressed with huge, clutch plays when they counted.
Chances are people will forget Smith even played for the Eagles as time passes. It was a mostly forgettable season, finishing eight games with one or zero receptions.
That’s not the way it should go down. Smith was a regular and valuable contributor during the Eagles’ postseason run. They don’t necessarily win two of those three games without him.
The drops are what stick out to some people, along with the calls to replace him and his general lack of impact most weeks. But Smith was a great presence in the locker room all year, then became a legitimate weapon in the playoffs.
His departure was necessary and inevitable, but Smith’s time with the Eagles should be remembered fondly.