Ravens Listed Among ‘Trade Fits’ for Bears’ Disgruntled All-Pro Linebacker

Ravens Roquan Smith

Getty Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith celebrates a sack in 2021.

After missing out on Bobby Wagner in free agency, the Baltimore Ravens may once again be in the market for an All-Pro inside linebacker after Roquan Smith publicly requested a trade away from the Chicago Bears.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport first broke news of Smith’s trade request on August 9, with the fifth-year linebacker claiming that the Bears “refused to negotiate in good faith.”

Though Bears general manager Ryan Poles later clarified that he intends to re-sign Smith, a public trade request may force him to at least consider offers coming in from other teams, one of which could be the Ravens.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler listed the Ravens among the 10 NFL teams who have the draft capital to acquire smith and the salary cap space to extend him, writing:

The Ravens courted Bobby Wagner in free agency, and though Smith would cost more, he’s also seven years younger than Wagner and could pair with Patrick Queen as game-wreckers in the middle. Scouts see this as a scheme fit, with Smith’s makeup playing to Baltimore’s AFC North toughness quotient.

Indeed, the Ravens had ‘high interest’ in Wagner after he was cut by the Seattle Seahawks, even hosting the eight-time All-Pro on a visit to Baltimore. But after he opted to sign with his hometown Los Angeles Rams, the Ravens were left with veteran Josh Bynes, 2020 third-rounder Malik Harrison and a slew of undrafted linebackers for depth at the position.


Smith Would Upgrade Ravens’ Defense

Smith would represent a serious upgrade over that group with second-team All-Pro berths in each of the last two seasons, as Fowler explained:

Over four seasons, Smith has reached elite status by filling up the stat sheet, with 524 tackles (43 for a loss), 14 sacks, 17 pass deflections and five interceptions. He ranked fifth in the league in tackles last season (163). He plays all three downs and impressed in coverage.

When I asked a high-ranking NFL exec which teams should or will be interested, the response was, “31 teams. The guy is a baller.”


Potential Deals for Smith

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta is no stranger to trading for All-Pro defenders – he acquired Marcus Peters in 2019 and Calais Campbell in 2020 – so he could explore making a move for Smith.

The Bears will likely want at least a Day 2 pick for Smith after spending the eighth overall pick on the former Georgia Bulldog in 2018, but Smith’s desire to reset the market for linebacker contracts complicate matters. Any team who trades for Smith knows they’re going to have to cough up $20 million a year or more, so they won’t want to give up too much draft capital to acquire him.

The Ravens could explore packaging offensive guard Ben Powers with a draft pick in exchange for Smith. The Bears have one of the weakest offensive lines in the league, and the 2019 fourth-rounder could be on the trade block if he doesn’t win the left guard competition in Baltimore. Powers still has 19 starts under his belt over the last two seasons, though, and could easily earn a starting job in Chicago.

Baltimore would still have to deal with Smith’s desire for a new contract, but an extension could reduce his $9.7 million cap hit in 2022. But with major money committed to Ronnie Stanley, Mark Andrews and Marlon Humphrey in the next few yearsplus Justin Tucker’s recent extension – the Ravens would need to be careful before resetting the linebacker market for Smith. That’s not even including the ongoing negotiations for Lamar Jackson’s contract extension, which has the potential to be the most expensive deal in league history.

The Bears seem determined to keep Smith in Chicago, but they already traded Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers this year. Jettisoning Smith would complete their full teardown and give them plenty of draft and salary cap resources to build around Justin Fields for the future.

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