The Ravens checked another name off their free agent list this morning when the team announced the re-signing of linebacker Daryl Smith.
Smith and the Ravens agreed to four-year deal worth a reported$16.1 million, keeping the veteran linebacker in Baltimore for 2014 and beyond. ESPN’s Adam Schefter had the news first.
Smith, the former Jacksonville Jaguar who took over the reigns for Ray Lewis in 2013, produced a stellar year. Many questions arose about replacing Ray and who the team would find to anchor the defense, and Smith responded.
Not only did he anchor the Ravens defense, he was a star. In 2013, Smith led the Ravens with 123 tackles (57 solo) while setting career highs in sacks (five for -43.5 yards) and interceptions (three). As if that wasn’t enough, Smith recorded two forced fumbles and scored his first career touchdown on a pick six against the Houston Texans.
Smith also excelled in pass protection in 2013. He set a career-high and Ravens LB franchise-record with 19 PD (tying for the NFL’s fifth most) in 2013. Not a bad way to get started taking over for Lewis – breaking one of his records.
In fact Smith even drew praise from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady who said Smith reminded him of Lewis.
“He looks a lot like Ray Lewis,” Brady stated prior to the teams’ Week 16 clash. “Ray Lewis is Hall of Fame; he’s one of the best players I’ve ever played against, but Daryl Smith has really stepped in and been a big leader for them.”
“He’s right in the middle of the defense. He’s a really smart, instinctive player, really good against the pass, fast sideline to sideline. He’s got a lot of qualities for a great linebacker,” Brady added. “He’s made a lot of plays from an interception return for a touchdown, strip-sacks, fumbles and stuff like that. He’s really good.”
While Smith struggled at times in run defense, another year in the Ravens’ system, along with the continued development of Arthur Brown next to him, should certainly help.
It was obvious that keeping their own was a priority for the team this offseason. Getting Smith re-signed was just another big step heading into the 2014 season.
No doubt Smith is happy; after all, he has $16.1 million reasons to celebrate his birthday today.
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