Reports have indicated teams would pursue Ravens pass rusher Za’Darius Smith this offseason but would Ozzie Newsome deal him?
Last offseason the Baltimore Ravens traded defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and a third-round compensatory pick to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a third-round pick. It moved the Ravens up 25 spots in the 2017 NFL draft to select defensive end Chris Wormley.
Jernigan was heading into a contract year and was a player the Ravens knew they likely weren’t going to resign. They took their chances and got some value from him before he walked in free agency. I wasn’t a big fan of the trade at the time but it was a move Ozzie Newsome and the front office felt was warranted given the circumstances.
The Ravens still have a potential postseason run to worry about before the offseason but could they make a similar trade this year? According to NFL insider Chad Forbes, one executive would consider called the Ravens to make a deal for outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith.
Smith is entering a contract year in 2018 but would the Ravens be willing to move him?
If I’m being realistic, I can’t see this happening. After being considered a bubble player coming into this season, Smith has developed nicely as a pass rusher. He’s only started three games this season but that’s been in part to the resurgence of Terrell Suggs and the breakout season of Matt Judon. Suggs’ years are limited and Smith is the player in waiting once he retires.
The Jernigan situation was completely different than Smith’s. Jernigan was a player that always seemed to be in John Harbaugh’s doghouse. Whether it was inconsistencies or bonehead plays (fumble recoveries), Jernigan never seemed to be on John Harbaugh’s good side. The Ravens resigned Brandon Williams and kept plenty of depth on the defensive line, which made Jernigan replaceable. The Ravens found a suitor in the Eagles and pulled the trigger. The defensive line has since seen younger players like Carl Davis and Willie Henry step up this season.
The pass rush position is a bit different for the Ravens. They have two rookies in Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams but neither has shown consistency yet in their young careers. Judon is set to be a bonified stud and Terrell Suggs will hopefully return next season. Smith is a player the Ravens need to keep around at least for one more year. Let him play out his contract and evaluate him at the end of the 2018 season.
This isn’t a Timmy Jernigan situation and the Ravens shouldn’t treat it as such.