Per the report, the contract is fully guaranteed for $45 million and will make Smith the highest-paid inside linebacker in football. For the Ravens, the deal leaves open the franchise tag as they approach the offseason in negotiations with quarterback Lamar Jackson, whose contract expires at the conclusion of this season.
The Ravens traded for Smith in October, sending the Chicago Bears second- and fifth-round picks in return. He started 17 games this season between the two teams, tallying 169 tackles, 4.5 sacks and three interceptions, all career highs. He also tallied six passes defended and four quarterback hits while earning his first Pro Bowl bid at 25 years old. He was named second-team All-Pro twice in Chicago.
The Ravens were the NFL's third-ranked defense against the run this season, allowing 92.1 yards per game on the ground. While they struggled in pass coverage as the 26th-ranked pass defense, they rated as a top-10 unit overall in yards per game, and they allowed 18.5 points per game, the third-best rate in football behind the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills. Baltimore will play the AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals in the wild-card round on Sunday.
The focus in Baltimore remains on football until the postseason concludes. Once the Ravens' season is over, attention will shift to Jackson's contract, which promises to be one of the NFL's biggest offseason stories. If they don't reach a long-term deal, the Ravens would presumably employ the franchise tag to ensure that the former league MVP remains in Baltimore.