The Baltimore Ravens and linebacker Roquan Smith agreed to a new contract, making Smith the highest-paid linebacker in NFL history, NFL Media reported.
Smith’s deal is for 5 years, $100 million with $45 million fully guaranteed and $60 million in total guarantees. Smith represented himself in the contract negotiations, and he’s now the first off-ball linebacker in NFL history to earn at least $20 million per year.
“He is worth every single bit,” said Chargers quarterback Chase Daniel, an analyst for The 33rd Team and a teammate of Smith’s for two years in Chicago. “He’s a difference-maker and worth every penny of that contract.”
The Ravens acquired Smith from the Chicago Bears at the NFL trade deadline in exchange for a 2023 second and fifth-round pick as well as veteran linebacker A.J. Klein.
The Ravens improved drastically on defense after acquiring Smith. With him in the middle, the Ravens allowed 14.7 points per game from Week 9 to Week 18. Before Smith arrived, the Ravens were allowing 22.9 points per game.
Smith earned his first career Pro Bowl selection after finishing the season with 86 tackles, two sacks, one interception, three passes defended, and 11 run-stuffs.
Smith spent the first four and half seasons of his career with the Bears. However, the two sides couldn’t agree on a new contract this offseason, so he requested a trade and held out for a portion of training camp. Smith eventually returned to the team before the start of the season and played eight games before his trade request was granted.
With Smith locked up long-term, the Ravens’ attention will turn to their other prized free agent, quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson is also representing himself in negotiations and also likely wants to be made the highest-paid player at his position this offseason.
If the Ravens and Jackson can’t come to an agreement, the team could use the franchise tag on him without worrying about losing Smith in free agency.
“The Ravens showed [Smith] the Money and also saved the possible franchise tag for Lamar Jackson,” Daniel said.
Jackson hasn’t played in five weeks due to a PCL injury, but he’s got a chance to return for Sunday’s wild-card game against the Bengals.