OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Pro Bowl middle linebacker Roquan Smith will remain the centerpiece of the Baltimore Ravens’ defense for well over half a season.
Smith reached an agreement on Tuesday for a five-year extension, a team source confirmed. The NFL Network reports that the deal is worth $100 million, which would make him the league’s highest-paid inside linebacker at $20 million per season.
The extension with Smith will not only prevent Baltimore’s top defensive lineman from becoming a free agent in two months, but also free up the Ravens to use the franchise tag for quarterback Lamar Jackson, ending the fifth-year option for his rookie Contract.
Smith, 25, has lived up to expectations since the Ravens picked him up from the Chicago Bears in October for the second and fifth rounds of the 2023 draft. As leader and sound engineer, Smith finished that season as the NFL’s third-best tackler (169) for a Baltimore defense that allowed the third-lowest points (18.5) and he was named to his first Pro Bowl of his career.
“He wants to do the things that it takes to be a great player and a great unit and then make an impact on your team,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Smith on Monday. “That’s what he’s all about – 100% – [and] i love that about him. He’s one of the top guys I’ve ever seen like that and I think that certainly always has an impact on anyone as a leader.”
Smith was the most influential player in the second half of the season for Baltimore. In the Ravens’ first eight games without Smith, the defense ranked 20th in points allowed (22.9) and 24th in yards passed (364.3). In her nine games with Smith, defense conceded the second fewest points in the NFL (14.7) and held teams by the third fewest yards (288.8).
He is the first player since Hall of Famer Ray Lewis to have at least 100 tackles, multiple sacks and an interception in each of the early years of his career.
Jackson responded to Smith’s endorsement on Twitter:
Unc you just snapped💰🚀
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) January 10, 2023
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