A few weeks ago, Baltimore Ravens players had stirred the pot regarding a potential Za’Darius Smith reunion, and now the team seems to be actively pursuing Smith in free agency.
At the beginning of the free agency tampering period, the Ravens have stayed quiet while their AFC North rivals made some big splashes: the Bengals immediately picked up Alex Cappa, the Steelers signed Mitchell Trubisky, and the Browns released Jarvis Landry.
Baltimore may have been wisely biding their time in their pursuit of Green Bay Packers’ Za’Darius Smith, who was released by the Packers this afternoon and has generated plenty of interest from multiple teams.
Count the Ravens as very, very interested.
The Ravens are keeping an eye on Za’Darius Smith in free agency
Smith played in Baltimore for the first four years of his career, and in a crowded market, the Ravens could use their former ties to Smith to lure him to the team.
The seventh-year pass-rusher came off one of his worst seasons in 2021 which saw him play just one game due to injury.
Prior to 2021, though, Smith earned back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2019 and 2020 in which he played in every single regular-season game. When healthy, Smith stands to dominate the pass-rushing unit, recording a marvelous 26 sacks in three years at Green Bay.
After Smith’s disappointing 2021 performance, the Packers released Smith to save roughly $15 million in cap space. Despite recovering from injury, Smith could bounce back in a big way this season — and he could do so by reuniting with his former team.
This offseason, the Ravens only have roughly $16 million of cap space to work with, and Smith will likely need to take a significant pay cut to join the team.
Yet Smith would fill a major position of need in the outside linebacker unit and could pair nicely with Tyus Bowser and the young buck, Odafe Oweh, for the upcoming season.
With Justin Houston possibly leaving, Smith would assume the role of a seasoned veteran presence in Baltimore’s underperforming linebacker corps.
A player like Smith would be a home-run free agent signing and automatically elevate the Ravens’ pass-rush. Stay tuned to see if Baltimore and Smith can get a deal done this week.