The Baltimore Ravens made a splash ahead of the 2022 NFL trade deadline acquiring linebacker Roquan Smith from the Chicago Bears. It was a splash that was a long time coming for Smith, who performed a hold-in at training camp hoping to land an extension with the team. He also requested a trade from the Bears that at the time was not fulfilled.
But, a few months later, the Ravens stepped up and made a trade for the All-Pro linebacker. It may have taken a little while, but he has also now landed the lucrative long-term contract that he was seeking from Chicago.
Smith and the Ravens agreed to a massive, record-setting five-year extension worth $100 million. The $20 million annual average would make him the highest-paid inside linebacker in the NFL.
In nine games with Baltimore, Smith racked up 86 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, one quarterback hit, one interception and three passes defended. His presence helped turn things around on that side of the ball.
In the first eight games of the season without him, Baltimore surrendered 183 total points, surrendering 22.9 points per game. In the nine games with him, the Ravens gave up only 132 points and 14.7 per game. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals were the only teams to score more than 16 points against the Ravens with Smith in the lineup.
“He wants to do the things that are required to be a great player and to be a great unit and then to impact your team,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Smith on Monday. “That’s what he’s all about — 100 percent — [and] that’s what I love about him. He’s one of the top guys I’ve ever seen that way, and I think that does always impact everybody as a leader, for sure.”
Many franchises don’t value off-ball linebackers to that extent, but the Ravens have a storied history of impact players at the position and Smith proved his worth upon being acquired. It should come as no surprise that the last player to achieve the stats which Smith has in his first five seasons in the NFL was none other than Ravens’ star, Ray Lewis.
Smith and Lewis each recorded at least 100 tackles, one interception and multiple sacks in each of their first five seasons in the league. Baltimore is certainly hoping that Smith can continue that streak as he will be the centerpiece of their defense for years to come.