ESPN's Adam Schefter broke news of Smith's deal and provided the parameters:
Ravens and LB Daryl Smith reached agreement on a four-year, $16.1 million deal, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2014
The Ravens are a team that likes to keep their own free agents, and as Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com noted after Smith's terms were announced, this was a high-priority deal:
Re-signing Daryl Smith was key for #Ravens because middle linebacker market was getting extremely thin.— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) March 14, 2014
It's not just the middle linebacker market that was drying up quickly; the entire position wasn't providing much impact in free agency after top players like D'Qwell Jackson and Perry Riley agreed to deals.
This is a nice birthday present for Smith, who turned 32 on Friday, and does help secure Baltimore's linebacker corps for the immediate future. He spent the first nine years of his career in Jacksonville before coming to the Ravens.
Smith rewarded the Ravens with a career-high 123 combined tackles, five sacks and three interceptions.
The two sides had been working on a deal for weeks before coming to an agreement. Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun reported on February 28 that the Ravens had made him a focal point of their offseason plans:
Ravens also making Daryl Smith a priority to retain although no deal imminent according to a source— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) March 1, 2014
This is the third major deal the Ravens have made to retain one of their own free agents, after previously agreeing to terms with tight end Dennis Pitta and offensive lineman Eugene Monroe.
The Ravens have had a much better offseason this year than they did last year after winning the Super Bowl. Retirements and cap restrictions forced a lot of changes to the roster. Being able to keep their top players will help them compete in the AFC North.
Smith's age might catch up to him by the time this deal runs out, but given how successful he was in John Harbaugh's system last year, the Ravens should expect more solid production in 2014.
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