Za’Darius Smith snub leaves the Ravens scrambling for pass rush help

Ravens, Za'Darius Smith (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Ravens, Za'Darius Smith (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens believed they were set to reunite with former outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith after they reportedly agreed to terms on a four-year, $35 million contract in free agency.

However, Smith made the shocking decision to snub the Ravens a day later and the deal has now fallen through.

General manager Eric DeCosta met with the media earlier in the day and refused to comment on Smith’s situation leading to speculation that all was not as it seemed.

That proved to be the case, and now Smith is a free agent once again. By all accounts, it doesn’t appear as though a reunion is going to take place.

The Ravens need pass rush help after losing Za’Darius Smith

The Ravens went into the offseason with a number of important needs to address. They’ve addressed two so far adding star safety Marcus Williams and veteran right tackle Morgan Moses.

However, the hope was that Smith would be able to fill the obvious void at pass rusher. That won’t be the case any longer.

Justin Houston and Pernell McPhee are free agents and neither seems likely to return, the latter might even retire. Meanwhile, Tyus Bowser is recovering from a torn Achilles, and although he expects to be ready for training camp, the Ravens learned last year that they can’t rely on recovery timelines.

Aside from Odafe Oweh who had an up-and-down rookie season, they don’t have a viable outside linebacker they can rely on. Adding Smith was supposed to change that in a big way.

Since leaving Baltimore, Smith has taken his game to new heights making consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in 2019 and 2020 before an injury-riddled 2021 campaign saw his time in Green Bay come to an abrupt end.

With 26 combined sacks over his last two full seasons, Smith was going to provide a major boost to the Ravens’ pass rush. Now, the team is left scrambling with many of the top names off the market.

The likes of Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram, Derek Barnett, Jerry Hughes, and Houston remain available with Barnett possibly being the most intriguing of them all.

They could also turn to the 2022 NFL Draft in search of additional pass-rush help, but it wouldn’t be wise to pigeonhole themselves into drafting one early.

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Ultimately, this obviously is a far-from-ideal situation if you’re the Ravens. They have the financial flexibility and draft capital to rebound, but this one hurts.

Za’Darius Smith won’t be coming back to Baltimore after all.