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DARYL SMITH: Right Player, Right Price…for now

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We’ve heard it many times when it comes to the credo of Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome.

“Right player, right price.”

Look no further than linebacker Daryl Smith as the latest example of the Ravens finding a player willing to accept less in compensation in exchange for an opportunity to play for a winner.

At 31, Smith is nearing the twilight of his NFL career. Losing is something Smith is all too familiar with, playing nine seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who drafted him in the second-round of the 2004 draft. Throughout his career, Smith has only played on three teams that had a winning record; so being in Baltimore is certainly a breath of fresh air.

Currently the team leader in tackles (25), passes defensed (5), interceptions (T-1), and with 1.5 sacks through his first three games in Baltimore, Smith is on pace to pay handsome dividends on his one-year, veteran minimum ($840,000) deal including a $285,000 signing bonus. At this pace, this not only assures that Smith will receive more money next season, but it unfortunately may happen somewhere else besides Baltimore.

Coming to Baltimore was a smart move for Smith. Being apart of the most recent Super Bowl Champions assures you a platform to be showcased. The Ravens defense has historically been one of the best in the league and with the absence of Ray Lewis, Smith’s play on the field could be overshadowed by his less dramatic – but evident – leadership qualities.

To fans it’s more, but to the players the NFL is a business. Smith appears to have at least another year or two left and he should try to capitalize monetarily on his success this season. Unfortunately for the Ravens and their fans, the Ravens may not be able to outbid, even though it won’t necessarily break the bank, for his services given the $53.7 million of cap space tied up in their top-five highest compensated players.

Since signing with the Ravens in June, Smith has been everything the Ravens could have expected and then some. However, the “right player, right price” mentality is the reason Smith is in Baltimore, but unfortunately that credo could send him packing next season.

It’s been a pleasure to watch Smith thus far.

Let’s enjoy it while we can.

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