NFL News & Analysis

Baltimore Ravens, LB Roquan Smith agree to terms on a five-year, $100 million contract

Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith (18) during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens have made the first business move of 2023, agreeing to terms with linebacker Roquan Smith on a new contract that makes him the highest-paid off-ball linebacker in NFL history.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Smith has agreed to a five-year, $100 million extension with the Ravens, the team that acquired him at the 2022 trade deadline. The deal reportedly includes $45 million fully guaranteed and $60 million in total guarantees, both tops at the position.

An impact addition from Day 1

Putting positional value to one side to evaluate the player in a vacuum, Smith and the Ravens have been a fantastic match since his arrival on trade deadline day.

The eighth overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft has produced a career-high 84.7 PFF grade since joining the team, a mark that leads all Ravens defenders this season. Not only that, but it’s the highest single-season grade by a Ravens linebacker since Ray Lewis in 2009.

Highest-graded seasons by a Ravens linebacker (2006-2022; min. 200 snaps played)
Player Season Snaps played PFF grade
Ray Lewis 2009 989 91.2
Ray Lewis 2006 838 86.3
Roquan Smith 2022 533 84.7
Ray Lewis 2011 783 82.8
Ray Lewis 2007 849 81.6
Ray Lewis 2010 1,034 81.4
Bart Scott 2006 942 80.6
Ray Lewis 2008 926 79.9
Bart Scott 2008 893 78.7
Daryl Smith 2014 1,048 78.1

Smith's PFF grade is tied for second at the position since Week 9, which is when he arrived in Baltimore. Over that same time, he is tied for 14th in defensive stops (30) and tied for 11th in total pressures (8).

Before his arrival, the Ravens had allowed 0.018 expected points added (EPA) per play on defense, tied for the 10th-worst mark in the NFL. But over the second half of the season, they flipped to the fifth-stingiest defense in that regard at -0.109 EPA allowed per play.

No, that’s not all down to Smith, but when you look at his individual performance and that of the Baltimore defense as a whole, it’s easy to see why the Ravens think he is a player they want to keep around long term.


CLICK HERE TO VIEW ROQUAN SMITH'S CAREER IN PFF PREMIUM STATS

Roquan Smith's new contract

Smith becomes the highest-paid off-ball linebacker in the NFL after agreeing in principle to a five-year, $100 million extension with the Baltimore Ravens, the team that acquired him at the trade deadline. The deal reportedly includes $45 million fully guaranteed and $60 million in total guarantees, both tops at the position.

The guarantees are very strong, continuing a recent trend with the Ravens where they keep the overall value of deals in a reasonable range and in turn guarantee more money than comparable deals at the top of the market.

To put things in perspective, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard’s $52.5 million in total guarantees is the next-highest mark.

FRANCHISE TAG IN STORE FOR LAMAR JACKSON?

Smith couldn't have landed with a better club at the deadline — not only because of his fit on the field but more so because teams only get to use one franchise tag per offseason, and the Ravens have to save theirs for quarterback Lamar Jackson.

This is why the deal was agreed to in principle in early January, as Baltimore didn't want to let Smith reach free agency and get into a bidding war. The Ravens surely planned for this outcome after parting with a second-round pick and more to acquire Smith.

Baltimore has a lot of money tied up in defensive players who aren't on the generally more-expensive defensive line, with cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Marcus Williams both among the 10 highest-paid at their respective positions, as well.

Expect the Ravens to place the franchise tag on Jackson in early March and then work to iron out a long-term deal. They can afford to, so there's no reason for concern there, but the cap is getting really tight.

Trading away tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and wide receiver Marquise Brown will save them a lot of money in the long run, though, and that enables them to continue to spend aggressively elsewhere.

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