Roquan Smith becomes NFL’s highest-paid linebacker with new Ravens deal: report

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The Baltimore Ravens have reportedly agreed to terms with star inside linebacker Roquan Smith on a five-year, $100 million contract.

Smith was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 2018 draft, but the Pro Bowl linebacker didn’t get an extension offer he considered worthy of the Bears.

The team ultimately decided to trade him to Baltimore in October in exchange for a second- and fifth-round draft pick. His extension with the Ravens includes $60 million in total guarantees, according to NFL Network.

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Roquan Smith of the Ravens is introduced before a Denver Broncos game on December 4, 2022 in Baltimore.
(G Fiume/Getty Images)

Smith started all 17 games this season and had arguably the best season of his professional football career. He racked up 169 tackles and 4.5 sacks. The former Georgia football standout also had three interceptions this season and was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time.

He is now the highest-paid inside linebacker in the NFL, the NFL Network reported.

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Now that the Smith deal is done, it’s likely the Ravens will shift their focus to figuring out Lamar Jackson’s future. The star quarterback has missed the last few games of the regular season with a knee injury, and it’s still unclear if he’ll be available for the team’s wild-card playoff game.

Jackson’s contract expires at the end of the season and, like Smith, he has been negotiating with the team without agent representation.

Jackson has reportedly asked the Ravens for a fully guaranteed contract along the lines of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s five-year, $230 million contract, which set a record for the highest guaranteed money awarded to a player. of the NFL. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported in September that Jackson turned down a deal with Baltimore worth approximately $250 million in pursuit of a fully guaranteed contract.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith meets with reporters after the Steelers game in Pittsburgh on Sunday, December 11, 2022.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith meets with reporters after the Steelers game in Pittsburgh on Sunday, December 11, 2022.
(AP Photo/Don Wright)

If the two sides can’t come to an agreement, the team will likely franchise Jackson. Though it’s possible the NFL’s only MVP will leave the Ravens in the offseason.

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Smith’s presence in Baltimore has given a boost to the Ravens’ defense, which has only given up more than 16 points twice since his arrival. Third-year linebacker Patrick Queen has had to deal with fewer double teams because of Smith, which has allowed him to be more productive.

Alvin Kamara of the Saints is tackled by Roquan Smith of the Baltimore Ravens at Caesars Superdome on November 7, 2022 in New Orleans.

Alvin Kamara of the Saints is tackled by Roquan Smith of the Baltimore Ravens at Caesars Superdome on November 7, 2022 in New Orleans.
(Jonathan Bachmann/Getty Images)

Smith will now be the only inside linebacker to earn $20 million per season. He surpasses Indianapolis Colts defenseman Shaquille Leonard as the highest-paid linebacker in the league in terms of average annual value. Leonard earns $19.7 million per season.

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Over the course of the past five seasons, Smith, Leonard and Steelers linebacker TJ Watt are the only defensive players to record at least 15 sacks and five interceptions.

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