Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith was the “QB” of the defense last season, and had one of the most productive seasons of his career, turning things around after playing in just two games in 2012. Smith was forced to sign a one-year, prove-it deal for a ridiculously cheap $1.125 million, and the signing proved to be a massive steal for Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens organization. Of course, Smith got plenty of out of the deal, as he re-established himself as one of the best inside linebackers in the game, and he finally earned himself some national recognition. He was always a great player with the Jacksonville Jaguars when healthy, but playing for the Ravens and starring in Baltimore certainly leads to more attention on a national scale.
CSN Baltimore’s Clifton Brown reports that two of Smith’s “potential suitors” are the Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans, and I’m sure those aren’t the only two teams who will want to go after one of the league’s most well-rounded ILBs. Smith had 123 tackles with five sacks, three interceptions, and an insane 19 passes defended last season. He has elite coverage skills at the position, is a great blitzer, plays the run at a very high level, and he has all the intangibles that teams look for in a 31-year-old leader at the position. After proving himself on that one-year deal, he has put himself in a position to earn big bucks on a multi-year contract.
So will the Ravens be able to keep him? That’s the critical question, and an extension to Terrell Suggs would certainly help the team free up the cap space necessary to keep Eugene Monroe, Dennis Pitta, and Smith. However, Smith doesn’t seem to be as much of a priority as the other two names, because both TE and OT are weaker positions than LB for this team.
Both the Broncos and Titans would be wise to sign Smith, as the Broncos would get an All-Pro caliber middle linebacker to help their defense as they gear for another championship run. But the Titans make the most sense as a potential buyer, because they have plenty of cap space and desperately need to upgrade at the position. Moise Fokou just isn’t going to cut it, and Smith would be exactly the kind of signing this team needs at linebacker.