Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith can take over for Earl Thomas

Cornerback Jimmy Smith #22 of the Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)
Cornerback Jimmy Smith #22 of the Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images) /

With the Ravens parting ways with safety Earl Thomas, the team already has a likable replacement in the folds with Jimmy Smith.

The Baltimore Ravens‘ elite defensive backfield took a notable hit over the weekend, as the team announced it parted ways with veteran perennial Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas following an altercation with one of his teammates, fellow safety Chuck Clark.

Baltimore will eat $15 million by cutting Thomas, which is a sign there was much more behind the scenes than just one on-field scuffle. Yet in the proverbial “life moves along” argument here, it’s only natural to wonder who the best fits for a would-be Thomas replacement are going to be moving forward. Yes, some options include still-available free agents, and one can’t rule out the possibility of a trade.

While exploring every available option is a wise move for general manager Eric DeCosta, there’s one option on the table for the Ravens to promote right now.

It would be as simple as moving veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith back to safety.

Smith, who just turned 32 years old, doesn’t quite have the range and speed to keep up with the increasingly faster crop of wide receivers he’d have to face on the boundary within the AFC North. While depth is always important, especially players who have a veteran’s savvy, Smith isn’t going to challenge Baltimore’s first-team All-Pro cornerback tandem of Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey any longer, barring injury, yet it would be prudent to get a player of Smith’s caliber on the field as much as possible.

Despite appearing in nine games, starting five of them last year, Smith still managed to record an impressive 30 tackles and six pass breakups to go along with an interception. Pro Football Focus rewarded Smith with a solid 65.6 overall grade on the year, too.

One could make the argument third-year pro defensive back DeShon Elliott should get the first nod, saving Smith for depth and making this move to establish someone younger on the back end of the defense. Perhaps, although Elliott’s start to his NFL career has been marked by injuries, and young defensive backs typically take longer to develop at the pro level compared to most other defensive positions.

Considering the Ravens’ Super Bowl window is now, it’s probably best to go with proven-commodity experience over an X-factor, although that’ll be a decision for head coach John Harbaugh in training camp.

Next. Ravens' 4 best replacement options for Earl Thomas. dark

Still, Smith should be the favorite to slide back from cornerback to free safety where he won’t have to rely as much on reaction speed and can instead keep the action in front of him, where he can best utilize his outstanding football IQ.

And hopefully, make the transition away from Thomas a smooth one.