The Baltimore Ravens have agreed in principle with inside linebacker Roquan Smith on a five-year, $100 million contract extension, NFL Network reported Tuesday.
The deal includes $45 million fully guaranteed and would make Smith the highest-paid off-ball linebacker in NFL history at $20 million per campaign, per the report.
Smith, who was acquired in an Oct. 31 trade with Chicago, represented himself with the Ravens after failing to reach a long-term deal with the Bears.
Smith, 25, recorded 86 tackles, two sacks and one interception in nine games with the Ravens (10-7), who visit the Cincinnati Bengals for an AFC wild-card game on Sunday.
Smith registered a season-high 16 tackles against the Bengals in the regular season finale.
Pass rusher salaries at outside linebacker are generally higher than traditional inside linebackers. Dating to 2016 with the Denver Broncos, outside linebacker Von Miller established a record for the “linebacker” position with a six-year, $114.5 million deal in 2016.
Smith’s impact appears evident since he was acquired from the Bears.
Before Smith arrived, the Baltimore defense ranked 20th in points per game allowed and 24th in yards allowed. They rank second in both categories since, according to the team.
Coach John Harbaugh praised Smith’s leadership at his press conference on Monday.
“He has been fantastic that way. He’s all about it. He doesn’t worry about what people think; he doesn’t care,” Harbaugh said.
“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. 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. I want all of our guys to lead that way.”
Including eight games with the Bears, Smith finished the 2022 season with a career-high 169 tackles, 4.5 sacks and three interceptions.
Smith has 18.5 sacks, 54 tackles for loss and eight interceptions in 78 games (76 starts) since Chicago drafted him eighth overall in 2018 out of Georgia.
A long-term extension with Smith frees up the Ravens to potentially use their franchise tag on quarterback Lamar Jackson this offseason.
–Field Level Media