Mink: I think the chances of an extension for Roquan Smith are high, and I think there's a chance it gets done before the regular season ends, similar to how General Manager Eric DeCosta reached a deal with Marcus Peters in 2019 after trading for him midseason.
The Athletic's Dan Pompei, who just released a feature story on Smith in which he spoke to DeCosta, wrote, "The idea of being a free agent in demand — private jets, presidential suites and Wagyu tomahawks — is alluring. But the Ravens are planning to try to sign him before the end of the season."
The Ravens gave up second- and fifth-round picks for Smith. While they could recoup a compensatory pick if he were to leave in free agency, that's still a fairly pricey rental.
Most importantly, the Ravens really like Smith, and even more so after his arrival. Smith has been everything the Ravens hoped for. He's been individually very productive, and he's made those around him, including Patrick Queen, better. He's been a force multiplier on the field. The Ravens have allowed 55 rushing yards per game since he arrived, down from 97.5 previously. And Smith's interception in Pittsburgh last Sunday turned the game.
Off the field, Smith has been a model player too. He's already highly respected and liked in the locker room, by his coaches, and really everybody in the building. He has a great demeanor and he's getting involved in the community. There's really not a bad thing you could say about Smith.
Add it all up, and it's the kind of player that makes you comfortable making a long-term investment. Now, that investment will be hefty, as Smith told Pompei that he views himself as the league's best off-ball linebacker and believes he should thus be paid as such. That likely means a contract that averages about $20 million per season.
With the Ravens also wanting to reach a contract extension with Lamar Jackson, those are two huge pending payouts. Still, I expect that Baltimore's front office will find a way to make it all work. Right now, Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland estimates the Ravens should have about $44 million in projected salary cap space next offseason.
Downing:Lamar Jackson's return timetable will be based on his recovery process, not the status of Tyler Huntley. Simply put, when Jackson can play, he will play. It's unknown whether he'll be back in time for Saturday's game against Cleveland, as the reported PCL sprain carried a one-to-three week recovery timeline. If he's on the longer end of that recovery, then he would be sidelined until the Week 17 matchup with the Steelers on Jan. 1.
Huntley's status is also up in the air right now after the concussion on Sunday, but there are encouraging signs about his progress. He participated in a limited basis during Tuesday's walk-through. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Huntley is still in the concussion protocol, meaning he needs to get cleared before returning to full-contact work, but the fact that he's already practicing in some capacity is a good sign for the Ravens. The Ravens hope to have both quarterbacks available, but their recovery timelines are independent of each other. They won't rush Jackson back into action based on Huntley's status.
Mink: I'm as eager to see David Ojabo as everybody else. I don't think Ojabo's health is a factor anymore. Rather, I think it's a question of whether he's a better option than other players, particularly at his position, that are active on gameday.
I'm not sure that Ojabo is a better pass rusher, right now, than Justin Houston or Tyus Bowser. I don't think he's a better run defender than Jason Pierre-Paul or Odafe Oweh. So that means the other four outside linebackers are ahead of the second-round rookie for defensive snaps.
Let's just say you're going to add him as an extra rusher in obvious passing situations, or add him to the rotation to keep Houston fresher. How many snaps would that be for Ojabo? Not many. Plus, you'd have to deactivate a player that's giving you more on special teams, and we all know how much the Ravens value special teams. Maybe Ojabo gets to the point where he can help on special teams enough to take one of those spots, but he hasn't reached it yet in coaches' eyes and they're the ones running practice.
This is a numbers game for the talented rookie. The Ravens probably expected that Ojabo would take more off Houston's plate late in the year, but Houston has earned those pass rush reps with 9 sacks so far this season. It's not an indictment on the rookie. It's just that the other veterans are playing at a high level.
Downing: Ben Powers has been an unheralded player who deserves more credit than he gets. He entered training camp competing for the left guard job with Tyre Philips and Ben Cleveland, and Powers simply seized the job from the start. Head Coach John Harbaugh said the fourth-year guard is "really taking control of his fate in this league." Powers is graded by Pro Football Focus as the best pass blocking guard in the NFL. The Raven also put a lot of faith in him as a run blocker, which was shown on the s6-yard carry by Gus Edwards to seal the game where Powers led the way as a pulling blocker. Powers has likely proven himself as a quality starter in the NFL and has likely earned himself a nice contract after the season.
Something that I like about Powers is his mentality. He's a hard-nosed player who has fighter's mindset. He's been an underdog his entire career – he didn't have a single scholarship offer coming out of high school – and he's made the most of the opportunities he's had. Here's a little plug: Powers joined The Lounge podcast this week to talk about his career and success this season, and that episode will drop Thursday morning.