Grading the Ravens’ signing of OLB Za’Darius Smith

The Baltimore Ravens continue to make splash moves in 2022 free agency as they look to improve their roster in any way that they can. They signed safety Marcus Williams and offensive tackle Morgan Moses on Day 2, and didn’t stop there, as on Day 3 they reunited with outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith on a four-year, $35 million deal that can be worth up to $50 million.

Smith spent the first four seasons of his NFL career in Baltimore, but signed a big-money deal with the Green Bay Packers during the 2019 offseason. He turned himself into one of the best pass rushers in the entire NFL. However, he missed all but one game in 2021 due to a back injury.

The Ravens needed some more juice in the pass rushing department, and Smith gives them just that. The veteran outside linebacker has accumulated 227 combined tackles to go along with 44.5 career sacks. He’s also a versatile chess piece, and can line up in multiple places on the defensive line.

Smith also brings a veteran presence to an edge rusher room that is relatively young at the moment. Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes are entering their second years in the NFL, Jaylon Ferguson is entering his fourth, and Tyus Bower will be going into his sixth. Smith can become a leader in that room and hand out some valuable advice to his new teammates.

Getting Smith for $9 million average annual value is a steal for the Ravens. Even if he ends up making the full $50 million on his contract, his production when he’s healthy is worth the contract that Baltimore shelled out for him. One of the only ways that this deal can backfire for the Ravens is if Smith isn’t able to be on the field consistently due to injury. Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta has not been shy about spending to improve his roster this offseason, and that should pay off for him in the short and long term.

Grade: A