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Pro Bowler Za’Darius Smith signs with Baltimore Ravens at start of NFL free agency

Vincent Frank
Green-Bay-Packers-Za'Darius-Smith
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After an injury-plagued 2021 campaign with the Green Bay Packers, two-time Pro Bowl edge rusher Za’Darius Smith is returning to his original Baltimore Ravens team.

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported immediately after the official start of free agency that Smith has inked a four-year, $35 million contract to return to Baltimore.

A fourth-round pick of th Ravens out of Kentucky back in 2015, Smith spent his first four NFL seasons in Baltimore. His best performance with the team came back in 2018 when Smith recorded 25 quarterback hits and 8.5 sacks. This led to the edge rusher signing a massive four-year, $66 million deal with Green Bay during the 2019 offseason.

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Baltimore Ravens add impact pass rusher in Za’Darius Smith

baltimore ravens sign  za'darius smith
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of his first two seasons with Green Bay in 2019 and 2020, Smith was among the best pure pass rushers in the NFL. That span saw him record a combined 50 quarterback hits, 29 tackles for loss and 26 sacks en route to earning two Pro Bowl appearances.

However, the 29-year-old pass rusher ended up being a cap casualty this offseason following an injury-plagued 2021 campaign. Za’Darius Smith missed all but one regular-season game with a back injury.

If Smith is back at 100%, this will be a major boon for Baltimore. The team recorded a mere 34 sacks last season in what was a performance that did not compare to previous iterations of Ravens defenses.

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Tyus Bowser led the team with seven sacks while rookie Odafe Oweh played pretty well in spot action (five sacks). The idea for Baltimore is to have these three act as their biggest edge pass rush threats moving forward under new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald.

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