Josh Norman signing sets market for Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens

Ravens, Jimmy Smith (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Ravens, Jimmy Smith (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens are hopeful to bring back Jimmy Smith for 2020 and the recent league signing of Josh Norman may have set Smith’s market value.

The Baltimore Ravens are spoiled with riches at the cornerback position. The team has Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Tavon Young all slated to come back in 2020 and could also potentially retain both Brandon Carr and Jimmy Smith. The latter of all of these guys, Smith, is the most intriguing situation for the Ravens to monitor, as he is an unrestricted free agent and will turn 32-years old before the start of the season.

Baltimore would love to bring Smith back, as he provides the team with a top-notch option and excellent depth at the position. While Young should be back in 2020 as the team’s slot-corner, there are legitimate concerns about his dependability. Young has missed two of his four seasons in the NFL with major injuries. While health has never been one of Smith’s calling cards, he’s been far more available than Young.

Jimmy Smith was once again banged up in 2019, but that came from a teammate falling right into his knee. Upon his return, he was one of the main reasons why Baltimore’s secondary was so ferocious.

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With all this in mind, it is with a good amount of hope that the Ravens can bring Jimmy Smith back to the team for 2020. The biggest question mark will be what his price tag will be and whether or not Baltimore can afford him.

The question as to what Smith’s price tag could be has likely been answered after the Buffalo Bills inked Josh Norman to a one-year $8 million contract.

Josh Norman had a very forgettable season in 2019, as he was repeatedly torched by opposing receivers and looked like a shell of his former self, which is why we’re all surprised by the size of his contract even for one-year. But, Norman is returning to the graces Sean McDermott, who was Norman’s defensive coordinator during his All-Pro caliber season back in 2015 with the Carolina Panthers. There’s a likelihood that he was given such a large amount of money because of his fit with McDermott.

Buffalo’s secondary is a loaded unit, too, so there won’t be as much pressure on Norman to be a star again. The Bills are likely betting on Norman to play great in their scheme while being asked very little. The Ravens would be looking to have Jimmy Smith in a comparable role, but he is far more vital to their defense. Baltimore doesn’t have to work around Smith’s shortcomings the way Buffalo may have to with Norman’s.

We can conclude that Jimmy Smith is in a near-identical situation to Josh Norman now, which means Norman’s deal will likely set the market for Smith. Both corner’s best days are behind them due to age and/or injuries, although Smith is an admittedly much better player than Norman. Neither one is a team’s top-cornerback at this point in their careers and their roles are best served as reserve options. Still, $8 million is pretty steep for that kind of role.

With all of this in mind, I think $8 million is pretty fair for what Jimmy Smith brings to the Baltimore Ravens. Smith is an established leader and an important veteran to the team. Smith is also an intrinsically valuable member of Baltimore’s elite secondary thanks to his versatility to line-up outside or in the slot. The Ravens defense is simply a better unit when Smith is on the field.

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The Baltimore Ravens don’t exactly have the most cap room in the league, but they have enough to bring Jimmy Smith back if they want. Josh Norman has likely set Smith’s market value, but that’s still a reasonable amount to pay for such a good and vital player to Baltimore.