With 3rd Team in 4 Years, Torrey Smith Hopes to Find Stability With Eagles

It's something a lot of Eagles went through a year ago. Picking up the mangled pieces of their career after a year with Chip Kelly.

Torrey Smith, a 1,000-yard receiver back in 2013, endured a miserable 2016 season with Kelly and the 49ers last year, catching just 20 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns despite starting 12 games.

He became the first NFL wide receiver since 2009 to start at least 12 games and catch 20 or fewer passes … and also just the fourth since 1995.

When the season was over, the 49ers fired Kelly, the former Eagles head coach, and released Smith. He resurfaced with the Eagles, signing what is essentially a one-year, $4.875 million contract as part of a wide receiver overhaul.

This is Smith's third team in four years, and considering that his numbers have gone down every year since 2013 - 1,128 yards to 767 to 663 to 267 - it's fair to say his career is at a crossroads.

"It was tough for everyone," Smith said after OTA practice Tuesday of last year's 4-12 season with the 49ers. "I'm trying to be really sensitive when I talk about my time in San Francisco because each time I say something it makes it seem like I'm taking a shot at the quarterbacks or coaching when in reality i have all the respect in the world for the organization. It just didn't work.

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"But I know I can still play. People ask if I want to prove people wrong. It's not about proving anybody wrong, it's about proving people right because I know what I can do, and it'll show."

Smith had just three games all last year with more than 26 receiving yards, and he only broke 50 yards twice - 55 yards in Week 2 at Carolina and 76 yards in Week 6 at Buffalo.

Smith has always been known for his big-play ability. He led the NFL with 20.1 yards per catch in 2015, and his 17.3 average from 2011 through 2015 was second best in the NFL during that span, a fraction behind DeSean Jackson (17.306 to 17.293).

But last year, he caught just two passes longer than 21 yards, averaged a career-low 13.4 yards per catch and missed the last month of the season with a concussion.

"It was definitely a growing period out there, a lot of change," he said. "But it's nice to come into a consistent environment.

"I hope that they establish that out there soon, which I think they will, they're going in the right direction, I believe that. But I'm trying to stay as focused as I can on a new day here and trying to be the best person I can be for the team."

It's been a tough stretch for Smith, who spent his first four years with John Harbaugh in Baltimore, starting on the 2012 Super Bowl championship team.

Doug Pederson is his fourth head coach in four years, following Harbaugh in 2014, Jim Tomsula in 2015 and Kelly in 2016, and Frank Reich is his fourth offensive coordinator in four years, following Gary Kubiak, Geep Chryst and Curtis Modkins.

And Carson Wentz will be his fourth quarterback in four years, following Joe Flacco in 2014 and Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick in 2015 and 2016.

Every NFL player wants stability and Smith has had very little of that

"It's tough," he said. "It's not the most ideal thing in the world, but now for me it's just about making that stability happen.

"I think there's stability here within the organization from the top down, and that helps, there's stability in that quarterback room, which is huge as well, and it's up to me to be as consistent as I can be to add to that stability.

"Very happy to be here. Thankful they gave me a shot here and everything I've been involved with so far has made me feel great about my decision."

Smith enters a crowded receiving corps here.

The Eagles also added Alshon Jeffery in free agency and drafted Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson in the fourth and fifth rounds.

Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham are still here, as well as fringe players like Paul Turner and Bryce Treggs.

But Smith said despite the crowded field and despite the fact that he's guaranteed just $500,000 - which means the Eagles could theoretically release him with a very small cap hit - he feels like he's in the right place. 

"It just looks right, feels right, and I've been a part of some special teams and it has that vibe here," he said.

"That's not guaranteeing that we're going to win the Super Bowl or anything, but the organization and the stability here, everything looks the way it's supposed to look."

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