The Baltimore Ravens have reportedly agreed to a one-year contract extension with veteran corner back Jimmy Smith, ensuring the 32-year-old will not become an unrestricted free agent in March when his current contract would’ve to expire.
The deal is worth a guaranteed $2.5 million with another $2.5 million in playing time incentives, according to ESPN insider Jamison Hensley.
Although injuries and a pair for four-game suspensions by the NFL have prevented Smith from playing 16 games in a season in all but two of his 10 seasons, he has been a valuable member of the Baltimore secondary when healthy.
He did not become a regular starter until his third professional season when he recorded a career high 58 tackles, to go with two interceptions and three fumble recoveries in 2013. Smith, who has 14 career interceptions had three each in 2015 and 2017.
After playing through the first four years of his rookie deal, Smith was signed to a four-year, $48 million extension by the Ravens in 2015. That deal expired after last season and, after briefly testing the free agent waters, Smith returned to Baltimore on a one year deal for the 2020 season.
The team had planned to convert him into a safety or utilize him in some sort of hybrid role, but with corner back Tavon Young going down with a season-ending injury during training camp, as well as other Baltimore corners missing time from the lineup due to various injuries and COVID-19, Smith has remained valuable to the Ravens in his original position.
Baltimore clearly feels Smith still has something to offer, possibly as safety or continuing to remain part of the team’s depth at corner.
In October, the Ravens signed their top corner, 2017 first-round pick Marlon Humphrey to five-year, $98.75 million extension, making him one of the highest paid corner backs in the NFL.
This followed a three-year, $42 million extension for their other starting corner, Marcus Peters, in 2019.
Jimmy Smith: NFL timeline with Baltimore Ravens
• Drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft (27th overall) by the Baltimore Ravens.
• Started all 16 games at corner back for the Ravens, for the first time, in 2013, recording 58 tackles, intercepting two passes, forcing two fumbles and recovering three fumbles.
• Missed the final eight games of the 2014 after a season-ending foot injury.
• Agreed to a four-year $41.1 million contract extension with the Ravens in 2015.
• Missed Weeks 11 and 12 of the 2016 season with a back injury, returned for one game and then missed the final three contests of the season with a high ankle sprain.
• Smith tore his Achilles tendon late in the 2017 season, causing him to miss the final four games. Shortly after the injury it was announced that he was also suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances.
• In 2018, Smith missed the first games of the season while being suspended for violating the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. He returned to play 12 games (10 starts), recording 45 tackles, nine pass deflections and two interceptions.
• After reaching free agency, Smith signed a one-year $3.5 million contract to return to Baltimore for the 2020 season.
• Smith signs a one-year contract extension, potentially worth $5 million, to return to Baltimore in 2021 for his 11th NFL season.
Will Baltimore Ravens, Jimmy Smith last together beyond 2021?
That’s a question without a clear answer. It might depend upon whether or not Smith is willing to change positions or take on a reduced role.
In Baltimore’s case, signing someone with Smith’s experience is great insurance for the secondary — and at a cost-effective rate. Smith can be a reliable mentor to the younger players who’s been part of a championship culture for his entire career.
Over the past 20 games in which he’s appeared, Smith has made only 10 starts. However, he’s still playing at a high level this year, ranking 15th in Pro Football Focus’ overall cornerback grades. That’s more than competent enough to be either a surefire starter elsewhere after the 2021 campaign, or to return to the Ravens if next season goes well.