On Tuesday, the Baltimore Ravens and star linebacker Roquan Smith came to agreement on a five-year, $100M extension, with $45M fully guaranteed, and $60M in total guarantees.
With the deal the talented former Georgia Bulldogs star becomes the first off-the-ball linebacker to reach the $20M per season plateau. The contract surpasses those of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner, who top out at $19M and $19.7M annually.
Does Roquan Smith’s $100M deal affect Lamar Jackson’s contract?
While that’s fine and dandy, and definitely well-deserved, where does this mega-deal leave superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson. You know, the one who’s without a deal despite sporting a 49-21 record as a starter, which is a 70 percent winning percentage. What makes this even more shocking is Smith arrived just nine games ago and was able to secure a lucrative long-term extension. As for Jackson, he was happy for his teammate and even tweeted about it.
Unc you just snapped💰🚀
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) January 10, 2023
But where’s Jackson’s lucrative long-term extension?
Based on the Ravens’ cap situation, Smith’s contract should have no bearings on Jackson’s. But it’s not really a good look to sign new players to deals with the franchise player still unsigned beyond your next loss. Jackson’s status for Sunday’s road wild card matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals is still up in the air and he hasn’t played since spraining his knee a few weeks ago against the Denver Broncos.
Smith’s move to the Ravens has been a godsend for a defense that was in need of a jolt, and he’s provided that. While his play has been outstanding, it’s the leadership qualities that head coach John Harbaugh has enjoyed.
During Monday’s presser, Harbaugh told reporters this.
“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 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.”
Ravens defense in 2022 with and without Roquan Smith (via @TruMediaSports):
Without: 55.4% (27th)
With: 61.1% (T-5th)
Opponent Explosive Play %
Without: 10.4% (T-10th)
With: 8.3% (2nd)
Without: -.06 (30th)
With: .11 (T-1st)
— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) January 10, 2023
Smith Should Get Third All-Pro Selection
Prior to his arrival in Baltimore, Smith was named second-team All-Pro in 2020 and 2021. With the numbers the do-it-all tackling machine has put up this season, it’s highly plausible that a third consecutive honor is coming. He posted 169 total tackles between his time in Chicago and Baltimore, to go along with 4.5 sacks, three interceptions, and six passes defensed. While those stats do jump off the screen, it’s Smith’s effect on the Ravens’ total defense that’s been more impressive.
Since his arrival, the Ravens have gone from 20th in scoring defense to second, allowing just 14.7 points per game. He’s a huge reason why Baltimore has any shot against the much more talented Bengals.