OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens have signed Roquan Smith to a contract extension, agreeing to a five-year deal with the star linebacker who arrived in a midseason trade from Chicago and helped his new team secure a playoff spot with a stout defensive effort down the stretch.
The Ravens announced the extension Wednesday.
“We are so excited to announce a five-year extension with Roquan Smith. Since he's been here, Roquan has been a leader on and off the field, impressing us with his attitude and desire,” general manager Eric DeCosta said. “There is certainly a standard of defense in Baltimore, and Roquan has proven that he can surpass that lofty mark.”
The 25-year-old Smith was the NFL's third-leading tackler this season. He came to Baltimore after his tenure with Chicago ended somewhat acrimoniously. With his rookie contract set to expire, Smith participated in voluntary and mandatory offseason workouts, but when training camp started, he attended meetings and practices without participating in drills. He also went public with a trade request and accused general manager Ryan Poles of negotiating in bad faith.
Smith eventually started practicing and played the first eight games for Chicago before being dealt to the Ravens. Since the trade, Baltimore has allowed just 14.7 points per game.
“He doesn’t worry about what people think. He doesn’t care,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “He wants to do the 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% – (and) that’s what I love about him."
The Ravens reached the postseason despite a knee injury that kept quarterback Lamar Jackson out for the past five games. Baltimore opens the playoffs at Cincinnati this weekend.
Jackson, of course, has his own expiring contract, and with Smith now returning, the question is whether Baltimore can reach a long-term deal with its star quarterback. The franchise tag is also an option for the Ravens.
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