Ravens, LB Roquan Smith agree to blockbuster contract extension

Published 1/10/2023 2:59 p.m. EST, Updated 1/10/2023 3:28 p.m. EST

Linebacker Roquan Smith of the Baltimore Ravens reacts after making a tackle against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Ravens and star inside linebacker Roquan Smith have agreed in principle to a blockbuster contract extension, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed.

Smith’s new deal is worth $100 million over the next five years, according to the NFL Network, with $45 million fully guaranteed, the richest contract ever for an off-ball linebacker.

The Ravens acquired Smith on Oct. 31, just before the NFL’s trade deadline, after agreeing to a deal with Chicago that sent the Bears second- and fifth-round picks and inside linebacker A.J. Klein.

The deal was a gamble for Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta. Smith was set to reach free agency this spring if the two sides could not agree to an extension, and the Ravens would have been unable to designate both Smith and quarterback Lamar Jackson, another pending free agent, with the franchise tag.

But Smith has quickly proved his worth in the middle of the Ravens’ defense. He’s third in the NFL in tackles (a career-high 169) this season, has 4 1/2 sacks and three interceptions and has helped lead a unit that’s been one of the NFL’s best since his arrival. A two-time All-Pro with the Bears, who drafted him No. 8 overall in 2018, Smith was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time this season.

The Ravens face the Bengals in an AFC wild-card-round playoff game Sunday night. Smith had a season-high-tying 16 tackles in Sunday’s loss to Cincinnati.

This story will be updated.

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