The Athletic's Dan Pompei: Ravens Plan to Sign Roquan Smith Before End of the Season
The impact middle linebacker Roquan Smith has made on the Ravens defense since joining the team via midseason trade is obvious both on film and in the stat sheets.
The positive impression Smith has made within the organization also is apparent.
In The Athletic's Dan Pompei's in-depth profile of Smith, he noted that after the two-time second-team All-Pro arrived in Baltimore, he had the defensive scheme down in three days, knew the cafeteria workers' names after one week, and fit seamlessly in the locker room.
"Smith is the player most likely to round up teammates for dinner," Pompei wrote. "He and [Patrick] Queen connected quickly. During their first days together, they went for haircuts and food and hung out at [Marlon] Humphrey's. Queen asked Smith to request the locker next to his, and Smith rented an apartment in the same Inner Harbor building where Queen lives."
As a player and person, Smith is everything the Ravens look for in a cornerstone. The big question when the Ravens acquired him from the Chicago Bears was whether they would be able to sign him to a long-term deal. Smith, 25, is set to become a free agent after the season and will likely command a contract that averages around $20 million per year.
According to Pompei, the Ravens are intent on keeping Smith in the fold.
"The idea of being a free agent in demand — private jets, presidential suites and Wagyu tomahawks — is alluring," Pompei wrote. "But the Ravens are planning to try to sign him before the end of the season."
As for Smith's interest in remaining a Raven, Pompei wrote: "He wants to keep going in Baltimore. Everything he wants is right here."
"I'm happy to be playing the game that I love for an organization that really wanted me that has such a rich tradition for linebackers, and in an amazing city," Smith told Pompei. "It's hard not to smile when you go through a lot and you still are able to play the game you love. I'm joyful."
Earlier this week, we highlighted a column from Press Box’s Glenn Clark in which he wrote that the Ravens "cannot, under any reasonable circumstance, allow this to have only been a rental. The player is too good. The impact is too significant. The fit in Baltimore is entirely too logical. … Roquan Smith almost singularly represents exactly what their defensive identity should be for the foreseeable future."
Pompei also shed light on how the trade for Smith came about. Unhappy with how negotiations with the Bears were proceeding, Smith requested a trade in August, but none materialized.
"The Ravens were paying attention and on Oct. 28, four days before the NFL trade deadline, Baltimore GM Eric DeCosta called [Bears GM Ryan] Poles. Was he interested in trading Smith?" Pompei wrote. "The Bears were coming off a 33-14 road upset of the Patriots in which Smith had 12 tackles, a sack, an interception and a pass defensed in front of a national Monday night audience. Poles, unsure if the Bears could contend at 3-4, told DeCosta to call him back after the Bears played the Cowboys the following Sunday.
"After the Bears got smoked 49-29, it became clear Chicago was going to be more like the team that was trounced in Dallas than the one that rose up in New England. DeCosta reached out again and found a more receptive Poles. The Ravens were up against the salary cap, and DeCosta wanted to know if the Bears would pay most of Smith's salary. They would, agreeing to a deal in which Chicago would pay $4.8 million of Smith's $5.4 million 2022 salary."
J.K. Dobbins 'Proved That He Is a Difference-Maker'
Count FanDuel TV's Kay Adams among those who were impressed by running back J.K. Dobbins in his return in last Sunday's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he ran for 120 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Adams believes Dobbins' impact on the offense isn't getting enough attention.
"We are underreacting to how much J.K. Dobbins means to the Ravens," Adams said on "Up & Adams." "We've been wondering for weeks, starting way before [Lamar Jackson's knee injury], what's wrong with the Ravens offense, they do not look quite the same. And I think a big part of that answer and one that I haven't heard that much is how much they in fact missed J.K. Dobbins."
Adams said she wasn't taking anything away from Jackson or anyone else in the Ravens' backfield, but Dobbins "looked special."
"I think J.K. Dobbins proved that he is a big difference-maker in this offense," she said. "It just felt different with J.K. Dobbins on the field."
Adams also noted that Dobbins' declaration that he's still not himself yet "should be frightening for the opposition."
Matt Stover Is Glad to Be Mentioned in Same Sentence As Justin Tucker
Former Ravens kicker Matt Stover said he couldn't be happier that it was Justin Tucker who surpassed him last Sunday as the Ravens' all-time leading scorer.
"It's great that he's the one who did it because if I'm in the same sentence as probably the greatest kicker ever in the NFL, because he's proven it. … I'm glad that my name's still being mentioned and I haven't been forgotten," Stover said on “Glenn Clark Radio.”
Stover, who kicked for the Ravens from 1996-2008, said he's proud of what Tucker has accomplished on and off the field and there's no question he should be in the Hall of Fame when his playing days are over.
"When you look at great players, and you look at players who changed the scope of the game. … He is an elite player, he should be absolutely a Hall of Famer because you look at what he's done to the position, he's taken it to a whole other level," Stover said.
Stover said it's not by accident that the Ravens have had such stability at the kicker position.
"It tells you the importance that the Ravens put on the position. In fact, they even backed it up with money for Justin," Stover said. "The environment that Justin has is outstanding and he's just performed to an elite level. When you have a kicker you can trust from 60 yards, that just goes to show you."
Ravens Select Cornerback in Todd McShay's First Mock Draft
ESPN's Todd McShay released his first mock draft. He has the Ravens selecting Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III, CB with the 25th-overall pick.
"The Ravens are tied for second in interceptions (14), and Phillips would only add to their ball-hawking ways," McShay wrote. "He had six picks this year and shows the fluid hips and speed to stick with receivers in coverage. Toss in that Marcus Peters and Kyle Fuller are both on expiring deals, and this makes sense."
McShay acknowledged that a number of Ravens fans will probably be clamoring for the team to take a wide receiver in the first round.
"Yes, I hear the cries for a receiver, but with the top three off the board, I think Baltimore might lean on the position that presents better value here and defer its search for another wideout to Day 2 (or free agency)," McShay wrote. "Don't count out Boston College's Zay Flowers or UNC's Josh Downs, though."