Known in fantasy football circles as "the other Steve Smith," the 2007 second-round draft pick never regained his pre-injury explosiveness and sharp cutting ability after undergoing microfracture knee surgery and a mosaicplasty procedure late in the 2010 season.
No new injury led Smith to retire, a source who speaks to Smith told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. Smith simply can't play at the level necessary anymore and realized it was best to walk away. Smith is at peace with the decision, per Rapoport.
"This was not an easy decision, but it's the right decision for me at this time," Smith said in a statement released by the Bucs, who signed the receiver in April.
Although Smith was an excellent route runner with sure hands, Giants general manager Jerry Reese has been vindicated in allowing the receiver to walk as a free agent in 2011. Smith's production was artificially inflated by the Giants' system and Eli Manning's reliance on the slot receiver, as Victor Cruz's statistical dominance has proven the past two years.
Smith's stalled career is a reminder for NFL players to take the money while they still can. Smith lost out on what was reported to be a five-year, $35 million offer from the Giants months before suffering what ultimately was a career-ending knee injury. He walks away with one Super Bowl ring, one Pro Bowl bid, 245 receptions, 2,641 yards and 12 TDs over six NFL seasons.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.