Roquan Smith Reveals Reason Behind Jersey Number Change

Ravens ILB Roquan Smith

Getty Ravens ILB Roquan Smith believes that 2023 will be his best season yet after having a full offseason in Baltimore under his belt.

One of the new rule changes that the NFL owners approved at the March league meetings were to allow players to wear the No. 0 for the first time in the modern Super Bowl era.

Several prominent players around the league swiftly made the switch and even Baltimore Ravens 2021 first-round wide receiver Rashod Bateman briefly teased and entertained the idea on Twitter since he wore the number in college at the University of Minnesota.

However, on May 5, 2023, the team announced that veteran inside linebacker Roquan Smith will officially become the first player in franchise history to sport the number. Unlike his first jersey number switch at the professional level when he went from No. 58 to No. 18 after being acquired via trade from the Chicago Bears midway through last season, this change means more than just a fresh start.

“I look at the No. 0 as a new beginning — continuing to build a foundation of greatness with the start of a new season, “Smith said. “A strong and solid foundation is what you must have before anything else, and you must be willing to work for what comes next. This is my first start of a season with the Ravens, and I see no better number that represents that journey to greatness.”

The former first-rounder had a transcendent impact on the team’s defense once he was inserted into the starting lineup. By the end of the year, he had earned his first career Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors and was rewarded with the richest contract for a player at his position in NFL history.

He was already leading the league in tackles before getting traded with 83 in eight games and in just nine games with the Ravens, he averaged nearly 10 tackles a game and finished the year with a career-high 169 which was the third-most in 2022 according to Pro Football Reference.

Smith also recorded seven tackles for loss, two sacks, a quarterback hit, an interception, and three pass deflections just with the Ravens alone. Prior to the trade, he had already logged four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three quarterback hits, two interceptions, and three pass deflections per PFR.

He formed arguably the best inside linebacker tandem in the league with fellow former first-rounder Patrick Queen down the stretch of last season. With a full offseason of working together, building better chemistry, and further grasping a deeper understanding of defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s scheme, the sky is the limit for what the two of them and the defense as a whole can accomplish with him leading the charge as the field general.

Upset Fans Sound Off  After Buying His Old Jersey 

After he was traded to the Ravens and picked the No. 18, Smith assured fans that he would not be changing his number and that they could go buy his jerseys without fear of it being outdated in the foreseeable future.


Many disgruntled fans took to social media after the news broke to express their frustration and disappointment for what they feel is Smith going back on his word and causing them to waste their hard-earned money.

The NFL has a jersey assurance policy that states customers are eligible to receive a free replacement jersey if the active pro player’s jersey they purchased switches teams within 90 days of purchase. It also states the replacement process is fast and free, and that “claims need to be filed within 14 days of the qualifying event”.

Unfortunately for recent purchasers of Smith’s No. 18 jersey, the policy does not cover the following:

  • Players not on a pro team’s active roster
  • Players no longer on the team due to retirement, suspension, injury, dismissal, or anything similar
  • Team jersey changes (e.g., manufacturer, city, logo, name, or design)
  • Player’s name, number, or role with the team has changed, but they have not switched teams
  • Autographed jerseys

Not All Reactions to the Switch Are Negative 

While there is a large contingent of the fan base that is understandably upset about Smith changing his number after they’ve recently or have already purchased his old jersey, there appears to be a lot of fans in favor and excited to see him be the first Ravens player to rock the newly permitted number.

Some have already begun to give the nickname ‘Agent 0’ which is reminiscent of when former Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. went by the nickname and Twitter handle ‘Agent 89’.

There are also numerous fans that never like the No. 18 he initially picked in the first place because it wasn’t a traditional linebacker number or the most aesthetically appealing.