It was a monster contract for an ascending player, and he quickly made the Packers look like geniuses tallying 13.5 sacks in his first year in Green Bay. He followed that up with an additional 12.5 sacks in 2020 establishing himself as one of the NFL’s best pass-rushers.
However, trouble might be brewing in Green Bay. And no, we’re not talking about Aaron Rodgers. Nor are we talking about Davante Adams.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported on Saturday that Smith was “believed to be unhappy” after the Packers exercised the automatic conversion option in his contract.
That conversion gives him an untenable $28.1 million cap hit for the 2022 season and could lead to his release or a trade after the season unless he agrees to an extension.
Not an ideal situation for the former Ravens outside linebacker. With Smith unhappy, could the Ravens make an attempt to bring him back to Baltimore?
The Ravens should explore a trade for Za’Darius Smith.
Shortly after this report, Smith sent fans into a frenzy with a tweet that seemed to indicate that he was looking to find his way out of Green Bay.
However, he quickly clarified that his tweet wasn’t referring to anything in regard to his situation with the team.
Still, it seems clear that Smith isn’t happy with the Packers. And he might not be long for Green Bay, whether that’s by his choosing or the team’s.
At the very least, this move from the Packers seems to indicate that they might not be planning on keeping him around past this season. That is, of course, unless he signs an extension on their terms.
That’s where the Ravens could come into play.
Baltimore is desperately searching for additional pass-rush help be it for this season or for the future. Veterans Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee are joined by rookies Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes along with former third-round pick Jaylon Ferguson.
The Ravens are hoping that at least a couple of those players step up and prove themselves to be capable contributors, but it will be hard to replicate the production of the likes of Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, and Jihad Ward who all departed in the offseason.
Trading for Smith would be a no-brainer, provided the Ravens can make the financials work. Baltimore is strapped for cap space and is already staring extensions for the likes of Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, and others in the face.
They’re dealing with a tricky cap situation, but if they could make it work from a financial perspective, this is a move the team should make.
The required draft compensation likely won’t be as high given Smith’s reported unhappiness and his soon-to-expire contract. And the Ravens haven’t exactly shied away from making major midseason trades in the past.
This is something that general manager Eric DeCosta should at least explore. Bring Za’Darius Smith back to Baltimore.