The Ravens defense seemed re-energized in New Orleans during their 27-13 victory over the Saints. They played fast, tackled well and pressured the quarterback. Collectively, defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s squad benefitted from a shot of adrenalin, courtesy of Roquan Smith.
The former Georgia Bulldog and Chicago Bear passed his crash course in the Ravens way. He made impactful plays around the line of scrimmage and he covered well, the latter of which is a daunting task given Macdonald’s multiple sub-packages which include an assortment of fluid assignments.
Roquan’s decisiveness and execution seemed contagious and the resulting night’s work from the defense looked similar to defensive performances we all grew accustomed to during the franchise’s defensive heydays. And now with a week off, Roquan’s indoctrination can become even more firmly rooted, providing Macdonald with and even broader array of defensive looks to create confusion.
It is only one game and five tackles, but Roquan’s 3-down skill set allows the Ravens to defend the pass better on first down. Again, a small sample size but if the Saints game is any indication of things to come, it gives the Ravens a chance to beat teams in all three phases of the game. And that’s a characteristic of teams that go deep into the playoffs.
Roquan Smith makes a 3rd down stop in his @Ravens debut. 🙌
— NFL (@NFL) November 8, 2022
The fact that Smith was even available at all via trade is a bit of a head-scratcher. But in the Bears’ defense, Roquan was disenchanted with the team over his contract status as well as the trade of his good buddy Robert Quinn who was dealt to the Eagles. Perhaps the Bears concluded that it was a relationship that reached a crossroads and without representation, Smith more than likely was on his way out, so why not get something in return?
Besides the draft picks, one of the pieces moved from Baltimore to Chicago was linebacker A.J. Klein. In limited action, Klein actually played decently for the Ravens although he’s probably best remembered for his overtly late hit out of bounds during a Giants punt return back on October 16th in the Meadowlands. Including Klein in the deal was a clever stroke of genius by Ravens GM Eric DeCosta. Moving Klein’s salary offset all but $77,000 from the cap number the Ravens inherited from Bears for Roquan. Seventy. Seven. Thousand. For a two-time All Pro?
Speaking of Roquan and money, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio posted an interesting piece recently that accentuated the value of an agent. He compared the trade of Smith to the Ravens, to that of Bradley Chubb to the Dolphins. Here’s an excerpt:
“Consider the difference between linebacker Bradley Chubb and linebacker Roquan Smith. Chubb was traded this week by the Broncos to the Dolphins. Per a source with knowledge of the transaction, it didn’t happen out of the blue. Chubb’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, spent time before the trade happened negotiating the terms of a long-term deal with the Broncos and, with the permission of Chubb’s former team, talking to at least four interested teams.
Chubb ultimately picked the Dolphins, knowing that a significant new contract would be part of the transaction. That he could shift the injury risk to the team. That he could get the massive financial reward that, thanks to the rookie wage scale, he had yet to receive. And that, through it all, he could focus on playing football and not much else.
Smith, on the other hand, had no voice in the trade that sent him from Chicago to Baltimore, one way or the other. There were no contract negotiations with the Ravens, no effort to get to the table teams that would promptly give him a new deal.
Besides, when would have handled the business of negotiating with the Bears, of finding other interested teams, of getting their best offers on the table? Smith is immersed in football season; even if he knew how to work those various angles to his benefit, when would he have found the time to do it?
So when a player who prefers self-representation wants to pop off with the question of ‘what does an agent really do?’, this is one very specific example of the value of having one. Chubb’s agent got the contract Chubb wanted, from the team Chubb preferred to join. Smith still has no contract, there’s no guarantee or even an indication he’ll be getting one in Baltimore, and until he does he carries the very real risk of what an injury can do to his short- and long-term financial prospects.”
What happens after the 2022 season between Roquan and the Ravens is anyone’s guess. You know that the team will do its best to bring him back at a fair number after he’s acclimated himself to the Ravens culture. But if Smith had representation like Chubb, he might not be a Raven at all. He very well could be somewhere else with a contract already in tow. Given the contract status of the Ravens franchise quarterback, inking Roquan to a long-term deal before Lamar Jackson, would go over about as well as that JLens aerial detection system that used to hover near my home in Perry Hall. The $235M tethered spy cam broke loose from its grounding spot at Aberdeen Proving Grounds and ended up in Pennsylvania.
For comparative purposes, the initial cost to build M&T Bank Stadium was $220M.