Ravens expected to extend LB Roquan Smith in 2023 free agency

Ravens, Roquan Smith. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
Ravens, Roquan Smith. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens have some critical decisions to make in the “Offseason of Lamar Jackson,” but other key players shouldn’t be forgotten about.

One Raven who wasted no time settling in Baltimore is linebacker Roquan Smith, who was acquired as part of a midseason trade with the Chicago Bears and has flourished on his new team ever since.

Smith’s impact on the Ravens speaks for itself: the 25 year-old has 86 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two sacks, and an interception in nine games. In 2022, he earned his first Pro Bowl of many more to come, and he will also hopefully be a Raven for many more years to come as well.

In the last three games, the Ravens’ defense has allowed just 12.7 points per game, playing above and beyond expectations considering the ineffectual state of the offense lately.

In Week 18 against the Bengals, Smith went on a rampage with a team-high 16 total tackles and single-handedly carried the beating heart of the defense against Cincinnati’s incisive offense.

There’s no doubt that the Ravens will want to keep Smith around for next season and beyond. Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley had this to say about a potential Roquan Smith extension:

"Baltimore parted with two draft picks—including a second-rounder—and veteran linebacker A.J. Klein to pry Smith away from the Bears. The Ravens must already think that was a bargain swap.This is where it’s worth mentioning that Smith, like Jackson, is 25 years old. In other words, Baltimore could—and should—lock down cornerstone talents on both sides of the ball this offseason."

Ravens expected to reward Roquan Smith with a long-term extension in 2023

Buckley predicted that Smith and the Ravens would agree to a four-year deal, presumably paying Smith as a top-of-the-market inside linebacker.

In a defense stacked with elite talent at every level, Smith was the difference-maker halfway through the season, helping to boost morale and prevent late-game collapses.

Smith and Patrick Queen have turned into one of the most formidable linebacker duos in the league, and it’s hard to imagine a future in which the Ravens let Smith test the free agency.

Once considered an inconsistent tackler in Chicago, Smith has refined his skills and developed into the Ravens’ most valuable inside linebacker in 2022. Queen could never have made his Year 3 leap without Smith, and the team’s other options at the position remain young and inexperienced (Malik Harrison, Kristian Welch).

Per Spotrac, Smith ranks as a top-ten player at his position in the league and is estimated to command a five-year contract worth nearly $90 million, putting him on par with Indianapolis Colts’ Shaquille Leonard and New York Jets’ C.J. Mosley.

Next. Ravens have no one to blame but themselves for losing AFC North. dark

It would be a huge lump of money, yet the Ravens know all about smart investments and should be willing to sink their money in an immense talent and off-field leader like Smith.