Jimmy Smith Wants to Be a Raven for Life
There aren't many players on the Ravens roster have been with the team longer than Jimmy Smith. In fact, Sam Koch is the only one.
But entering his 11th season in Baltimore, there's no place Smith would rather be.
"I absolutely will not play for another team," Smith told The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec in a Q&A. "If the Ravens didn't re-sign me last year and I felt like I could still play, I probably would have still retired.
"… I didn't like being out there like that [in free agency], and I passed up more money (from the Ravens) the first time to eventually take less money. This year, I was like, 'I know I want to be here, so let me not play games.' Obviously, I know I'm not going to be one of the two starters, but I know I have a role on this team. I'm comfortable with that, so it was easy for me to sign back again."
After drafting Smith in the first round in 2011, the Ravens signed him to a four-year extension in 2015. After testing the free-agent market in 2020, Smith re-signed with the Ravens on a one-year deal. In January, Smith signed a one-year extension through the 2021 season.
"I feel pretty blessed," Smith told Zrebiec. "I was really banged up at the end of last year with the rib break and all that — groin, Achilles, all of that stuff. I rested a lot this offseason. Due to the whole pandemic, my personal trainer left (Baltimore) actually, went to Miami and did other things. I ended up training with the Ravens, and it's nice here. I had a great time training. (My trainer) might be back for this stretch we have now, so we can get our good work in. If not, I'll be up at the Ravens' facility training."
The Ravens have one of the deepest cornerback groups in the NFL, led by Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters.
"We have two of the top 10 in the league at cornerback, and our safeties are definitely trending in the right way," Smith said. "Even the young guys who came in and nobody knows about yet — they will know about them. I've been impressed with some of them during this OTA period."
More on Lamar Jackson's Contract Negotiations
In Monday's edition of Late for Work, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler's report that the Ravens want to get an extension done with Lamar Jackson "sooner than later."
It's been one of the biggest storylines this offseason with Jackson entering the penultimate year of his rookie contract. Jackson's situation is different compared to the other young quarterbacks who've recently signed big deals.
"The move isn't a strange one for Jackson, given that the 24-year-old didn't have an agent when he signed his rookie deal in 2018, as his mother stood in as his pseudo-agent," Deadspin's Carron Phillips wrote.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport talked about the uniqueness of Jackson's situation on The Pat McAfee Show.
"It's a lot of pressure, unbelievably difficult," Rapoport said. "The stakes are incredibly high because if you lock yourself into a bad deal you could cost yourself tens of millions of dollars.
"… Agents a lot of times sort of act as the buffer for teams to players. So if you're really pissed off about some counter-offer, you scream at the agent and talk about why you're going to put him out of business or whatever you want to say and the player generally has no idea and the relationship is good. It is a little different with Lamar Jackson because it is his mom acting as his business partner."
As Phillips and Rapoport noted, Jackson was drafted in the first round and signed his rookie contract without an agent. General Manager Eric DeCosta and the Ravens have been vocal about keeping Jackson in Baltimore for the long term. In Jackson's case, it's a matter of not if, but when.
"Jackson will undoubtedly point to the recent deals that Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson signed with their teams," Larry Brown Sports' Steve DelVecchio wrote. "He probably knows that Mahomes' $500 million deal and $45 million salary is unrealistic, but there's no reason he shouldn't aim to be paid as much as Prescott. Prescott signed a four-year, $160 million deal with the Dallas Cowboys this offseason. Jackson is a former NFL MVP. Prescott is not.
"Jackson has given Ravens fans a reason to feel optimistic about his extension, and there is no urgency at the moment. He still has one more season and the fifth-year team option on his rookie contract. It's possible that not having an agent involved could make the negotiations run more smoothly, but time will tell."
Under-the-Radar Receiver to Watch?
There's already been a lot of talk about who will step at receiver this season, and Zrebiec said Jaylon Moore is a player to keep an eye on.
"The second-year undrafted free agent out of Tennessee-Martin who spent last season on the team's practice squad was involved in every practice, and in several of them he had a highlight-reel-type catch to his credit," Zrebiec wrote. "With the number of receivers ahead of him on the depth chart, it's hard to see a scenario in which Moore makes the roster. Still, his improvement from last season, when he had a solid camp as a rookie, is notable and impressive. If he stands out during training camp and preseason, there should be a job available for Moore somewhere."
Moore signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent and spent most of the 2020 season on the practice squad. In January, he signed a reserves/futures contract with the team.
The Ravens have a long history of finding productive undrafted players. It's early, but Moore could be a player to watch in training camp.
- Jackson was named to NFL.com's All-Under-25 team.