The Eagles signed former New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith to a one-year contract, according to NFL sources.
The team later made the move official.
With Jeremy Maclin still on the shelf with an unidentified illness and DeSean Jackson just back after an 11-day holdout, the Eagles went out and acquired the 26-year-old former Pro Bowl receiver.
“Like I’ve said many times before, [general manager] Howie Roseman and I are always keeping our eyes open for good football players and players that we think can help our football team win,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said in a press release. “And Steve Smith certainly fits that category."
The move to sign Smith, considered one of the better slot receivers in the game, had nothing to do with Maclin's long-range health, a team source said. Maclin has been in training camp for over a week but has yet to practice. Eagles coach Andy Reid recently said that he expected Maclin to be ready for the start of the season.
Smith is recovering from December microfracture knee surgery, though, and won't likely be ready by the start of the season. The Eagles could place him on the Physically Unable to Perform List -- thus saving a roster spot for six games -- but a team source said Smith may be able to play earlier than thought.
"I'm not sure how far I am from playing. I think I'm pretty close, but we'll have to determine that with the doctors," Smith said during a conference call. "I just told the Eagles it seemed like a great fit and that's how it played out."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin recently said that Smith was far away from a return.
"I would disagree with that," Smith said. "Personally, I feel good. I've been running ... cutting."
Smith wrote on his Facebook page that the Eagles showed "MUCH" more interest in him than the Giants. He said during the conference call that the Eagles had been talking to his agent, Ben Dogra, for weeks.
Smith's best season came in 2009 when he caught 107 passes for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns. Last season his production slipped and he snagged only 48 receptions for 529 yards and three scores.
He injured his knee in December when he got tangled up with Minnesota linebacker Chad Greenaway when a postponed game was played at Ford Stadium in Detroit. Smith said there was cartilage damage and that's why microfracture surgery was chosen as the procedure to correct the injury.
"If you looked to me, I would practice tomorrow," Smith said. "We want to be extra careful with this thing. Just because you feel pretty good today you don't want to rush it and have any setbacks. I think that I'm ahead of the curve and that's how we want to keep it."
The Smith signing is last the lastest in the Eagles' spending spree. They have now acquired cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, defensive end Jason Babin, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, quarterback Vince Young, tackle Ryan Harris, running back Ronnie Brown, wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins, tight end Donald Lee, safety Jarrad Page, guard Evan Mathis and defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove in free agency.
"It's pretty exciting to watch even when I wasn't a part of the Eagles," Smith said. "I was just like, 'Wow,' they're making some really big moves. This is definitely something to look at, something to talk about."
Of question is how Smith will fit in with the Eagles. The team is already stocked at wide receiver with Jackson, Maclin, Jason Avant and Riley Cooper. The Eagles also have receiving options in running back LeSean McCoy and tight end Brent Celek.
"It just reminds me of my [Southern Cal] days when I had to go out there and compete with all kind of other guys and they really didn't say much about me," Smith said. "I love the competition."
Even if Smith doesn't contribute much the Eagles managed to take away a key piece from one of their NFC East rivals.