In blockbuster deadline deal, Ravens commerce for Bears ILB Roquan Smith, NFL’s main tackler


The Ravens have traded for Chicago Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith, a supply with direct information of the state of affairs confirmed Monday, including the NFL’s main tackler a day earlier than the league deadline.

Chicago will reportedly receive a second-round choose in 2023 and the upper of the Ravens’ two fifth-round decisions subsequent 12 months, together with reserve inside linebacker A.J. Klein.

Smith, a two-time All-Pro, has an NFL-best 83 tackles and a pair of 1/2 sacks, 4 tackles for loss and two interceptions this season. He’s anticipated to pair with Patrick Queen within the center, giving the Ravens one of many NFL’s quickest inside linebacker duos, and solidify a place that has ailed the protection at occasions.

The Ravens’ entrance workplace appeared for an improve at inside linebacker after final season, reportedly offering perennial All-Pro Bobby Wagner a deal comparable in worth to the five-year, $50 million contract he in the end signed with the Los Angeles Rams. Josh Bynes and Queen have been uneven of their second 12 months collectively as starters, with the 33-year-old Bynes restricted by his common vary and a latest quadriceps harm and 23-year-old Queen struggling early.

The blockbuster commerce for Smith offers the Ravens one of many NFL’s finest run-stopping linebackers and a possible long-term starter at a hallowed place in Baltimore. He’s tied for second within the NFL in stops this season, in line with Pro Football Focus, which the analytics website defines as an offensive acquire on first down that’s saved to lower than 40% of the road to realize, lower than 50% of the road to realize on second down, and any third- or fourth-down play saved with no first down or landing.

Through eight video games, Smith’s on observe to set or tie profession highs in tackles, sacks and quarterback hits. He additionally led all common Bears contributors with a team-best 4.6% missed-tackle charge, according to Pro Football Reference, an asset on a Ravens protection that’s struggled in house. In protection, Smith’s passer score allowed in protection (55.3) was the second finest on the group, in line with PFR. (He’s graded out as a poor go defender in 2022 in line with PFF, although he had sturdy grades in protection the previous two years.)

Smith, the No. 8 choose within the 2018 draft, is within the ultimate 12 months of his rookie contract. With the Ravens anticipated to designate quarterback Lamar Jackson with the franchise tag subsequent offseason if the perimeters can’t conform to a long-term deal, their hopes for retaining Smith may relaxation on his openness to a long-term deal. If he indicators a big free-agent contract elsewhere, the Ravens may recoup a compensatory choose within the 2024 draft.

The Ravens’ calculations on Smith may have an effect on their dealing with of Queen, the 2020 first-round choose who’s proven flashes of star potential over 41 up-and-down begins. The Ravens will probably have till May to determine whether or not to choose up the fifth-year choice on Queen’s rookie deal, which runs by way of 2023.

In buying and selling for Smith, the Ravens sacrificed solely a sliver of their restricted wage cap house. According to ESPN, the Bears will tackle nearly all of Smith’s remaining wage for this season, leaving Ravens common supervisor Eric DeCosta with some monetary flexibility as he considers different roster upgrades forward of Tuesday’s 4 p.m commerce deadline.

“I know Eric and I know how Eric is,” coach John Harbaugh stated shortly earlier than Fox Sports first reported the Ravens’ commerce for Smith. “I wouldn’t be honest to say he hasn’t talked to me about what he’s trying to do or what he’s thinking about doing or what you can do, but it takes two to tango. So we’ll see how that all goes. But you never know.”

Smith now has every week to arrange for the Ravens’ “Monday Night Football” matchup in opposition to the New Orleans Saints, their ultimate recreation earlier than a Week 9 bye. He’ll be a part of a proficient however inconsistent protection flush with first- and second-round expertise, together with Queen; outdoors linebackers Odafe Oweh, Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo; cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters; and safeties Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton. (Williams and Ojabo are nonetheless recovering from accidents and are usually not anticipated to play Monday.)

The Ravens, hanging on to their lead within the AFC North, have been aggressive on the deadline beneath DeCosta, however the reported bundle for Smith represents his largest swing but. In 2019, the Ravens traded inside linebacker Kenny Young and a fifth-round choose to the Los Angeles Rams for Peters. In 2020, they parted with a third- and fifth-round choose to accumulate defensive finish Yannick Ngakoue from the Minnesota Vikings.

Smith will arrive in Baltimore with related expectations. He recorded 607 tackles, 47 tackles for loss, 16 1/2 sacks, 20 quarterback hits, 20 passes defended and 7 interceptions over 4 1/2 seasons with the Bears. He missed simply 4 video games over his Bears profession and performed each defensive snap for Chicago this season.

Smith emerged as a doable commerce goal earlier than the season after he staged a hold-in throughout Chicago’s coaching camp amid stalled contract negotiations. He made a public request for a commerce, saying in a press release that the group didn’t worth him and refused to barter in good religion. Smith and Bears common supervisor Ryan Poles finally got here to an understanding that he would play this 12 months for the Bears with no new contract, and he entered the season as certainly one of 4 group captains.

He’ll depart a Bears group mired in one other rebuild for a Ravens group with Super Bowl ambitions.

Chicago Tribune contributed to this text.



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