Smith spent the last three seasons in Baltimore after playing the first nine years of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was a tackling machine for the Ravens, racking up at least 120 combined tackles in each of his three seasons with the team.
Along with 121 tackles, Smith also tallied three sacks and an interception in 2015 as he showed no major signs of slowing down at age 33.
Still, the Ravens apparently didn't think he was worth keeping at his current price. Spotrac notes he would have cost $4.375 million against the cap in both 2016 and 2017.
Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times expects Smith to seek out a full-time gig on the open market:
He's certainly still worthy of that type of role, though teams may only want to offer him a one-year deal given his age. He was part of the Ravens' solution after the retirement of longtime star Ray Lewis following the 2012 campaign, and he didn't disappoint.
John Middlekauff of CSN Bay Area noted the connection between Smith and Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio at a time when the team could seek an upgrade at middle linebacker:
Meanwhile, Baltimore gets extra financial flexibility after sitting near the bottom of the league with less than $10 million in cap space, per Spotrac.
Now it must fill the void alongside C.J. Mosley in the middle of the defense. Reggie Ragland is the top draft prospect at the position, but he would probably be considered a reach with the No. 6 pick.
Finding another prospect or a cheap free-agent option who can match Smith's consistency will be an uphill battle for the Ravens' front office.