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Patriots were close on wide receiver Steve Smith

03.15.14 at 10:20 am ET

Turns out that things were starting to heat up between the Patriots and Steve Smith before the receiver ended up signing a free agent deal with the Ravens.

In a conference call with reporters late Friday, Smith said he was on the phone with New England coach Bill Belichick while on the way to Baltimore.

“I had spoken to Coach Belichick personally when I was at the airport on my way to Baltimore,” Smith told reporters. “We had a conversation that indicated that they were very interested in me. And I was also open to going there as well, but I really felt like after sitting here that (Baltimore) is the place that I felt would best fit me, and they convinced me that I would fit in here very well.”

Perhaps sensing that the Patriots were set to swoop in and make an offer — according to this story, Smith was scheduled to meet with the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Monday — the Ravens moved quickly to secure Smith. The gritty slot receiver landed a three-year, $11.5 million deal with Baltimore on Friday relatively quickly.

“Steve is a Ravens-style football player,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “He always has been in our eyes. It’s just that he’s been playing for another team. ‘€¦ The last two days have given all of us with the Ravens an opportunity to get to know him on another level, and now, we’re even more impressed. We’re looking forward to working together and competing together.”

Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, Bill Belichick, steve smith,



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