After taking the flyer on Rolando McClain did not work out — better to find out sooner rather than later I guess — the Baltimore Ravens moved onto their next contingency plan in filling openings at inside linebacker with Daryl Smith. And I have to say, Ozzie Newsome, you’ve done it again.
The Ravens entered their Super Bowl-winning offseason with the flight of high-priced veterans and retirement of the greatest linebacker of all time in Ray Lewis, yet the Ravens’ office have actually in my opinion improved their defense quite significantly. Ed Reed‘s been essentially swapped for a younger, better player at this stage in free safety Michael Huff. Lewis was likewise over the hill and Dannell Ellerbe also departed this inside linebacker unit, but they’ve found a nice veteran-rookie combo in Smith and second-rounder Arthur Brown.
It will be interesting to see how Smith meshes with the Ravens’ linebacking corps upon suiting up for training camp, especially after the 31-year-old vet took a relatively modest contract to come to Baltimore. Smith suffered through an injury-plagued 2012 campaign as his contract expired, which devalued his free agent stock greatly, but gives Baltimore a steal if he can reclaim the 2011 form that saw him ranked 41st among all NFL players by Pro Football Focus.
Smith is expected to make the move from 4-3 outside linebacker with the Jacksonville Jaguars to 3-4 inside backer in B-more, and hopes to emerge from his hernia issues completely healthy.
“That significantly damaged Smith’s stock as an unrestricted free agent after his five-year, $24.9 million contract extension that included $10 million in guaranteed money expired in March,” wrote the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson.