The Baltimore Ravens locked up one of their younger stars yesterday by signing cornerback Jimmy Smith to a four-year, $48 million contract extension that includes $21 million in guaranteed money.
As part of the deal, Smith got a $13 million signing bonus and a $1 million base salary for the 2015 season. He is due $7 million guaranteed in 2016, $8.5 million in 2017, $9 million in 2018 and $9.5 million in 2019. Smith now has a $3.6 million salary cap figure for the upcoming season, down from the $6.898 million he was originally due.
"“I’m tremendously happy just to be a Raven for the next five years of my career, and I plan on getting rings,” Smith said in a news conference. “Now, I can just focus on getting healthy and getting back on the field. That’s all my focus.”"
The deal was an important one because it solved a lot of the Ravens problems with one move.
It relieved some of the cap issues in 2015, while locking down one of the top young corners in the league. The Ravens lucked out in the deal because they will retain Smith at a cost much cheaper than most corners garner on the free agent market. The deal also makes sense for Smith because he earned himself a nice contract coming off a year in which he finished on injured reserve.
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Keeping Smith in the fold also takes care of one of Baltimore’s many decisions to be made following the 2015 season. Guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele, strong-side linebacker Courtney Upshaw, kicker Justin Tucker and punter Sam Koch all could the hit the open market next year. The Ravens also must redo Joe Flacco‘s contract as he’s scheduled to count for $28.5 million against the cap in 2016.
It impacts the Ravens 2015 draft plans too. Solidifying Smith at corner with Webb still under contract for three more seasons makes it highly unlikely that Ozzie Newsome uses a high draft pick on a cornerback. It does not change the fact that the Ravens need help in the secondary, but the Ravens are not forced to draft a corner in the first round because of the potential of Smith leaving. If one of the top corners should happen to fall to Baltimore at No. 26, they will draft the best player available instead of drafting for need.
Todd McShay released his latest mock draft today and has the Ravens selecting Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon. While Gordon would be an instant upgrade at running back and would fit the zone-blocking scheme, it’s McShay’s final sentence in the mock draft that makes it unlikely that Gordon ends up in Baltimore.
"“He needs to improve as a pass-catcher and in pass protection to become a complete three-down back in the NFL.”"
Black and Teal
Marc Trestman’s offense is primarily focused around workhorses that have the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Matt Forte was targeted 130 times last season and caught 102 balls. Those numbers were the fourth-highest in the NFL and were more receptions than wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders, Jordy Nelson and Dez Bryant had last season. There are talented running backs with hands in the later portions of the draft, and there is no need to draft a first-round running back with Justin Forsett still on the roster. It also should be noted that running backs are rarely taken in the first round these days.
Steve Biscotti wants a pass rusher. The “experts” have predicted cornerbacks, wide receivers and now running backs. I’m on the record for saying they draft a defensive lineman, but my opinion has changed over the past few weeks. I’m starting to convince myself that the Ravens will draft an offensive player in the first round. They lack that explosive player on offense, and with a dry free agent market, the draft is really their only option.
Will it be Gordon or Todd Gurley in the first round? It depends how much Ozzie values running backs. Breshad Perriman is a name that has been linked to Baltimore, in addition to many other wide outs. If the Ravens decide to go with a tight end in the first round, the two biggest names are Maxx Williams and Devin Funchess.
The extension for Smith was a win-win for everyone. Smith gets to stay with the team that drafted him and earns himself a nice raise. The Ravens sure up their secondary for years to come, and can focus on the offense in the upcoming draft.
There are just eight more days to speculate which direction the Ravens go with their top pick. Check back with us tomorrow for a full mock draft, projecting all ten of the Ravens selections in next week’s draft.
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