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Eric DeCosta Suspects Jimmy Smith Will Test Free Agency

CB Jimmy Smith in action during an NFL game.
CB Jimmy Smith in action during an NFL game.

Jimmy Smith has spent his entire nine-year career with the Ravens, but there is uncertainty about where he will play next season.

The veteran cornerback is set to become a free agent in March and General Manager Eric DeCosta expects Smith to test his value on the open market. The Ravens would like Smith to return, but he remains unsigned.

"We've had conversations with Jimmy," DeCosta said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We've had conversations during the season, we've had conversations with Jimmy since the season. Lots of respect for Jimmy. Thought he played his best football later in the year. Jimmy's a guy that we value, so we'll see. I suspect Jimmy's going to want to hit the market and assess what his value is, as he probably should. He's a veteran, he's worked hard to see what his value is on the market. Lots of respect for Jimmy as a player. His agent and I have a really good relationship. So we'll just see."

Smith is 31 years old and performed at a high level in 2019 after returning from a Week 1 knee injury that forced him to miss six games. When healthy, Smith has long been an important piece of the Ravens' secondary. However, he has missed at least four games in seven of his nine seasons, and Baltimore has one of the NFL's deepest cornerback rotations led by Pro Bowlers Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. The Ravens also expect top nickel corner Tavon Young to return in 2020 after missing last season with a neck injury.

Meanwhile, the Ravens must decide whether to pick up next year's contract option on 12-year veteran cornerback Brandon Carr, who has spent the past three seasons with Baltimore. Carr has never missed a game during his career, starting 192 straight games, the league's longest streak among active defensive players. Playing both cornerback and safety last season, Carr brought depth, experience, and versatility to the secondary and he was also one of the team's most active players in the community, the winner of the Ravens’ 2019 Walter Payton Award.

"We've got to make a decision on Brandon," DeCosta said. "Love Brandon, much respect for Brandon, everything he stands for as a veteran guy who just plays, and plays and plays and his leadership, what he brings to the table as a corner-safety, great attitude. We've been very, very happy with Brandon."

The Ravens have invested heavily in their secondary in recent years, and that trend has continued with the signing of Peters to a contract extension in December and the three-year contract extension given to safety Chuck Clark earlier this month. The Ravens have also begun discussions with Humphrey regarding a long-term extension.

Meanwhile, Smith and Carr's future with the Ravens should be decided within the next month or so.

"I wish Jimmy the best, no matter what," DeCosta said. "Love to see him back in Baltimore. But he's a free agent, so we'll see what happens."

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