Ravens reunite with Za’Darius Smith, upgrade pass rush in a big way

Ravens, Za'Darius Smith (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Ravens, Za'Darius Smith (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens have reportedly signed a familiar face in the form of outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith. After three years away, Smith is on his way back to Baltimore.

As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens are signing Smith to a four-year, $35 million contract that has a max value of $50 million. A fairly reasonable deal for a player who should play a pivotal role in the Ravens’ pass rush.

Smith has spent the last three seasons of his career in Green Bay making consecutive Pro Bowls in 2019 and 2020 before an injury-riddled 2021 cut his time in Wisconson short.

Now, Smith is on his way back to Owings Mills where he will be reunited with many of his former teammates and coaches. A big get for Baltimore on the first official day of free agency.

Za’Darius Smith upgrades the Ravens pass rush in a big way

A fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Smith was primarily a part-time player over the first four years of his career. He flashed his pass-rush upside at times, but the Ravens never gave him the opportunity to be more than a rotational outside linebacker.

That, of course, changed when he signed with the Packers. Smith took his game to new heights racking up 26 sacks in his first two years in Green Bay. Unfortunately, Smith was rendered a nonfactor this past year due to injury.

Nonetheless, the Ravens undoubtedly have big plans for Smith now that he’s back in the fold. The 29-year-old will essentially replace Justin Houston as the team’s veteran pass rusher, although he probably offers more upside than Houston at this stage.

With Houston likely departing in free agency, Pernell McPhee not expected to return, and Tyus Bowser recovering from a torn Achilles, it was imperative that the Ravens addressed their pass rush this offseason.

Signing Smith is not only a fantastic way to do that, but it also gives the team flexibility in the draft. The Ravens won’t be forced to address edge rusher early given the depth they now have at that spot.

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The Za’Darius Smith reunion is not only a feel-good moment for Ravens fans, but a significant upgrade for the team’s defense.