Ravens Acquire 2-Time All-Pro Linebacker in Deadline Trade

Ravens ILB Roquan Smith

Getty The Ravens traded for two-time All-Pro inside linebacker Roquan Smith.

For the third time in his first four years at the helm of the team’s front office, Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta has made a bold move at the midseason trade deadline to improve the roster. According to a source from NFL insider Ian Rapoport, he has agreed to a trade with Chicago Bears‘ general manager Ryan Poles to acquire two-time second-team All-Pro inside linebacker Roquan Smith.

Per Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, the full compensation that the Bears are receiving from the Ravens includes a second and fifth-round pick as well veteran inside linebacker A.J. Klein who joined the team on October 3, and was signed to the active roster on October 6, and appeared in two games including one start in Week 8 according to Pro Football Reference.

Smith was originally drafted with the eighth overall selection in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Georgia and has been one of the most consistent and dominant players at his position since entering the league. According to Pro Football Reference, he has recorded over 100 total tackles in each of his first four seasons and currently leads the NFL with 83 through the first eight weeks of the season. Smith is also an amazing blitzer and has 16.5 career sacks to prove it. His ability to make plays on the ball in coverage is evidenced by his seven career interceptions to go along with his 20 career pass breakups.

Ravens Got An Amazing Deal

In his short stint as the team’s general manager, DeCosta has already built a reputation for being able to finesse and swindle other teams out of high-to-elite-level players for an incredible discount. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that trend continued with the trade for Smith as they are only paying a fraction of the remainder of his 2022 salary. He was due to make $5.4 million for the rest of the year and the Bears are going to be paying $4.8 million while the Ravens are only on the hook for $575,000.

While parting with precious and especially high-round draft capital isn’t a common practice for the Ravens organizations, they have proven in the past that they’re willing to forgo an unproven commodity in favor of a proven one, especially if that one is a generational talent at their respective position. According to spotrac.com, they only have  $2.27 million in available cap space and won’t even have to spend half of it in exchange for a perineal All-Pro playmaker on the defensive side of the ball.

Impact On Ravens Defense Moving Forward

The acquisition of Smith gives the Ravens and first-year defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald arguably the best inside linebacker duo in the league as it currently stands based on the sensational way third-year pro Patrick Queen has been playing over the last month.

His presence will allow Queen to be free to be the heat-seeking missile he can consistently be at and behind the line of scrimmage and will take some of the onus of coverage responsibilities off his shoulders as well. Since both players excel as contributors to pass rush via blitzes, the schematic flexibility to mix and disguise coverages on a down-to-down basis is going to be exciting to watch and hell for opposing offenses to game plan against.

Macdonald will be able to confuse, confound, and oftentimes overwhelm opposing offensive lines and signal callers with all the different pressure packages they can present with their dangerous and suddenly loaded front seven. Smith’s ability to move in space, read the eyes of the quarterback, and jump routes in underneath passing lanes as well as plaster running backs and tight ends in the open field will only further raise the overall level and diversify the Ravens’ defense down the stretch once he gets acclimated.

They still have veteran Josh Bynes as solid depth and third-year pro Malik Harrison who can play inside and out but this is clearly an all-in move for this year that could help the Ravens achieve their ultimate goal of winning a championship in 2022. Smith could also very well play himself into an extension with the Ravens or at least net them a third-round compensatory pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Read More