Report: Roquan Smith, Ravens agree to 5-year, $100 million deal to be NFL’s highest-paid ILB | News, Results, Highlights, Stats and Rumours

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The Baltimore Ravens didn’t wait until the offseason to extend linebacker Roquan Smith’s stay.

NFL Networks Ian Rapport reported Tuesday the two parties agreed to a five-year, $100 million deal guaranteed for $60 million. It’s the most money paid to an off-ball linebacker.

Its $20 million average salary puts him ahead of the Indianapolis Colts’ Shaquille Leonard ($19.7 million).

Securing Smith could have a big impact on the Ravens’ offseason now that they’re now free to use the franchise tag on another notable free agent, Lamar Jackson.

Jason B Hirschhorn @by_JBH

Roquan Smith’s signing for an expansion functionally had to occur before March 7, the deadline for using the franchise tag. The Ravens needed to keep the tag available for Lamar Jackson, whose contract expires this offseason.

Smith’s new contract poses a problem, however, as Baltimore now has less money – depending on what his 2023 salary cap is – to extend to the rest of the roster.

At least the team now has a window to apply the tag to Jackson before getting more serious about a long-term deal. Should the worst-case scenario materialize, the franchise tag also gives the Ravens some leverage in the trade negotiations surrounding the 2019 MVP.

Whether he was from Baltimore or another team, Smith was in for a big payday. The 25-year-old has been named a second-team All-Pro in each of the last two seasons and made his first Pro Bowl after combining 169 tackles, 4.5 sacks and three interceptions in his stints with the Ravens and Chicago Bears in 2022 had scored.

In November Bleacher Report’s Christopher Knox ranked Smith as the No. 4 overall player since it entered the open market.

There is always a risk of paying a premium for a non-premium position. Off-ball linebackers just aren’t as valuable as edge defenders, and replacing Smith with a rookie or a cheaper veteran might have been more cost-effective in the long run.

The Bears, for example, were unwilling to meet Smith’s asking price and eventually sent him to Baltimore for second- and fifth-round picks in 2023.

This trade put the Ravens in a corner. They couldn’t afford to give up good equity for a half-season lease, and they couldn’t delay negotiations with Smith well into the offseason lest it limit their flexibility with Jackson.

General Manager Eric DeCosta still has work to do, but he’s now crossed one of the biggest tasks off his to-do list.



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