The Ravens and LB Roquan Smith agreed to a five-year, $100 million contract extension, Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday. The team acquired Smith from the Chicago Bears prior to the 2022 NFL trade deadline in exchange for a 2023 second and fifth-round pick, and he now becomes the fifth most highly paid linebacker in the NFL.
What does that investment mean for QB Lamar Jackson, though, as he seeks a long-term deal with Baltimore?
In short, it shouldn't mean too much as Jackson seeks a monster extension of his own. Spotrac projects the Ravens with just over $48.8 million in available cap space in the 2023 season (fifth-most among NFL teams) and another $128.3 million in 2024 (eighth-most).
Why should we feel like there's enough money to go around? Simply put, there's just not a ton of money tied up in the offense moving forward. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley is the team's highest-paid player on offense ($19.75 million per year), followed by TE Mark Andrews ($14 million). There's not much else after that can't be tinkered with to make room, if necessary.
Essentially, they've built the foundation of their team with studs on defense, drafted well, and utilized offensive skill players on rookie deals to fill in the rest. It's been an effective method for saving up money to pay your star quarterback. The only question is — can Jackson prove he's worth it?
He's struggled to stay healthy over the last two seasons, which could cost him when it comes to negotiating his second contract. However, should he be able to play this postseason, he could just lead the Ravens to the Promised Land (of the Lombardi) just in time to snag a monster contract.
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