Inside the Roquan Smith deal

Denver Broncos v Baltimore Ravens
Getty Images

The Ravens traded for linebacker Roquan Smith knowing two things. One, he was in the last year of his rookie contract. Two, he has no agent.

That seemed like something the Ravens shouldn’t want, given their inability to work out a long-term deal with quarterback Lamar Jackson, another self-represented player in the last year of his rookie deal. But the Ravens and Smith worked out a contract, one that Smith publicly deemed to be “fair.”

Here’s a look at the details of the new Roquan Smith contract, for a source with knowledge of the terms.

1. Signing bonus: $22.5 million.

2. 2023 base salary: $4.5 million, fully guaranteed.

3. 2024 option bonus: $12 million, fully guaranteed.

4. 2024 base salary: $6 million, fully guaranteed.

5. 2025 base salary: $15 million, guaranteed for injury at signing, and fully guaranteed on fifth day of the 2024 league year.

6. 2026 offseason 90-man roster bonus: $4 million, earned on fifth day of 2026 league year.

7. 2026 base salary: $16 million.

8. 2027 offseason 90-man roster bonus: $4 million, earned on fifth day of 2027 league year.

9. 2027 base salary: $16 million.

The five-year, $100 million deal has a $45 million fully guaranteed at signing, with a practical guarantee of $60 million. To avoid owing Smith $60 million, they’d have to cut him before March 2024, resulting in $45 million for one season of football.

The deal also forces the Ravens to make an early decision in each of the final two years of the deal, by forcing them to pay him $4 million if he’s not released. It’s a wrinkle that every veteran contract should have, since it takes away the team’s ability to squat on a player’s contract until the money elsewhere has dried up.

It’s a great deal for Smith, given the physical risks inherent to the position he plays. And it does indeed prove that the Ravens will do a fair win-win deal with an unrepresented player.

29 responses to “Inside the Roquan Smith deal

  1. The difference between Smith and Lamar: Smith wasn’t seeking a fully guaranteed deal like Watson’s. He negotiated with both his and the team’s interests in mind and it took a few weeks to get it done. I think we’ve seen the last of Lamar in Baltimore.

  2. Overpaid for a LB that doesn’t generate sacks but they have the cap space and mind as well build a stud D again if can’t keep Lamar…

  3. The ravens have always been very good at identifying fair market value when signing players they just get called cheap because they refuse to overpay their own guys and don’t go out every offseason and give c+ players A+ money like most other teams do. Sometimes you gotta bite the bullet and overpay some guys if you wanna make a run at the big one. The time to splurge a little has passed the window is closed now after they pay Lamar.

  4. I do not know exactly how much an agent commissions are. However, I think that players that represent themselves end up getting less money. The player is negotiating a contract every few years, the team negotiates contracts every day of the year. Who do you think would be more astute at negotiating. If you said the player is, that is a wrong answer. I think Smith got a fair deal, but the net is no better than he would have got using an agent.

  5. Mike, This makes him the highest paid ILB in the league, does it not?
    It’s a “win win”, but it’s not something Smith had to haggle over. Self representation didn’t work in Chicago for him because they were offering less than “highest paid” in many ways, and he was insulted (as is his right). Nothing about Baltimore’s contract was able to be perceived that way.

    If they had stood firm at $90M with $40M guaranteed this probably don’t signed yet. Even though that is a “fair deal”, and then the self-representation would have been an issue.

  6. Love Quan’s game, but glad the Bears will be putting that money into both lines and WRs where it can have greater impact.

  7. (That seemed like something the Ravens shouldn’t want, given their inability to work out a long-term deal with quarterback Lamar Jackson, another self-represented player in the last year of his rookie deal. But the Ravens and Smith worked out a contract, one that Smith publicly deemed to be “fair.”)

    – That’s because the Ravens negotiated with Roquan Smith and not a psycho who raised him from from age 3 with the intent of making pro athlete money out of him.

  8. I’d love to see how that looks compared to what the Bears offered. Roquan got his $100M number but will he actually see $100M?

  9. Seems like he did a pretty decent job of representing himself.

    Back in the day, the boxer Sugar Ray Leonard used a lawyer who only charged him his hourly fee. That lawyer negotiated some pretty good purses for Leonard’s many championship fights.. Leonard said it was a lot cheaper than having an agent

  10. Good deal for Smith. He’ll want to re-do it in 2 years when someone else is the new highest paid LB, but good deal for now.

  11. Not only is he the best backer we”be had since the GOAT #52 it looks like he’s a hell of an agent as well! Congrats Uncle Ro! Now go fix #8 knee before Sunday night.

  12. Highest paid for his position. A position that’s devalued right now considering he’s an off-ball LB. There are consequences to that given that another unrepresented player is going to want the same sweet deal under a limited cap. Why would Lamar settle for less?

  13. The Ravens will move on from LJ. You can hear it every time Harbaugh disgustedly talks about 8’s availability for the playoffs.

  14. Ravens need him, therefore they need to pay him. Their D still isnt very good with him..so it def is a win-win. He’s been a stud since rookie season. Good for him.

  15. Would you rather have a great middle linebacker or a great pass rusher for that price?

    That’s what I thought.

  16. I find it funny that people are comparing this deal to what the worst franchise in the NFL (looking at you Chicago) would have done in negotiation. This is a very good deal for both sides. It looks like essentially a 3 year deal with a bunch of option years. Take a good look at Lamar Chicago. This is your future in 2 years. A running QB who get hurt way too much and is a far better runner then passer. Build your franchise around him and trade legit defensive players away. Well done Mr. Smith. Enjoy the savings of not paying an agent that commission.

  17. $20 million is a lot for a LB, but he’s shown to have an enormous effect on the defense in a short time. If they’re letting Lamar walk, they shouldn’t have cap issues to still build a good team. Just need to draft the right QB.

  18. Not very hard to negotiate the largest contract ever at the position you play. Certainly didn’t take an agent to get it.

    That’s all Lamar is looking for.

  19. I hate the Ravens. But they do offer fair market for their players. Read an article when Ray Lewis was a free agent. Newsome told Ray to go shop the market and bring back the best deal. The Ravens would beat it. But the Ravens wouldn’t bid against themselves and SET the player’s value. I hate to say it, they are actually a well-run organization. That’s smart and good business for all parties.

  20. Would you rather have a great middle linebacker or a great pass rusher for that price?

    That’s what I thought.

    ______

    Roquan made Pat Queen and the rest of the defense better. Good deal for Ravens. Good deal for Smith.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.