Steve Smith had planned to retire with Panthers after 2014 season

AP

Panthers receiver Steve Smith had planned the end to his career.  Until the Panthers had other plans.

Smith, now with the Ravens after being cut in Carolina, recently explained that he had planned to play one more year with the Panthers before retiring.

“The only people who knew were my close friends and my wife,” Smith told Don Banks of SI.com.  “I had been waking up every day about 3 a.m. and wrestling with some things in my quiet time. . . .  I finally decided and made the commitment to my family. I told them, ‘I’m done.  I don’t think I can do it much longer.  My knee was sore and I knew all the work I had put into my career and what it would take.  I came to terms with it, that this year was going to be my last year ever playing football.”

The team’s decision to end the ride a year early has prompted Smith to alter his timeline.

“When I got released, and how it happened, it made me feel a certain way,” Smith told Banks.  “It gave me a little bit maybe that I had been missing. My wife said, ‘How do you feel about that?’  And my response was to start working out again every day after that.  I started jogging, my knee started feeling better, and the next thing you know, I got a three-year deal here.”

So how much longer will he play?

“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 guys trying to cover him and tackle him may not feel that way.  Especially when the guys from Carolina show up in September to try to deal with the man who spent 13 years in Charlotte.