Ravens Acquire All-Pro LB Roquan Smith From Bears | Will Smith’s Future Contract Spell The End For Lamar Jackson In Baltimore?

(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

On Monday afternoon, the Baltimore Ravens made a splash move ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline. The team traded for Chicago Bears two-time All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith. The move is big for a Ravens team that’s struggled in the middle of its defense. Smith leads the league in tackles this season (83), after finishing second in the category last season.

While the trade for Smith is good for a Ravens team that sits at 5-3, and in first place in the AFC North, the hard part will be trying to keep the talented playmaker following this season, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent looking to cash in on his lengthy, accolade-filled resume.

Smith will reportedly be looking for a massive deal, worth $17.6 million per season. A lucrative deal of that nature could clash with what the Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson do as far as his new deal. Jackson’s play, which has been average at best, isn’t helping his case for the fully guaranteed deal he wants. But Baltimore knows they have to pay him huge money. 

Smith Declined Long-Term Extension In Chicago

Things between the Bears and Smith soured over the summer when contract negotiations broke down. Smith was seeking a deal to become the league’s highest-paid off-ball linebacker, which GM Ryan Poles wasn’t in agreement with, so contract talks broke down. 

Following Smith’s decision to just play out the final year of his contract he told reporters:

“I see myself at a number, and they see me at a number. And we couldn’t agree. We can agree to disagree. But hey, I would never accept a bad deal. Like I pretty much said. I would never accept a deal that I don’t feel like is worth what I’m worth.

“My number and their number was not the same, and that’s pretty much all I can say on that.”

Smith’s situation sounds a lot like Jackson’s situation with the Ravens. The Ravens don’t want to pay Jackson a fully guaranteed deal, so he will either leave after this season or the Ravens will come correct with the money. 

So now both the leaders of the offense and defense are playing on the final seasons of their rookie deals. There might not be enough money to go around for the Ravens to sign both  LJ8 and Smith to long-term bags. 

Smith Carried Middle Linebacker Mantle Strongly In Chicago

Since his arrival to the league as the No.8 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, Smith was arguably the Bears’ best defensive player. The former Georgia Bulldogs star has tallied 600 total tackles, 16.5 sacks, seven interceptions, one forced fumble and one touchdown. From the beginning, he upheld the Bears tradition of great middle linebackers like Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher, all Hall of Famers.

While those greats started and finished their careers in the “Windy City,” Smith won’t, but he’s definitely on a path to Canton himself. Will he do it as a teammate of Lamar Jackson?