Adding insult to injury, just after the Baltimore Ravens lost their top cornerback, Jimmy Smith, for the remainder of the season to a torn Achilles, it was also announced that he is facing a four-game suspension related to the use of performance-enhancing substances, the same type of suspension currently being served by Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert.
Smith, and the team likely, as well, were already aware of the pending suspension, as Gilbert and the Steelers were before it was announced, but it came out at that time because the cornerback chose to drop his appeal. After all, it would make little sense not to. He can’t play anyway.
If he attempts to continue to fight it throughout the course of the season, he could possibly run the risk of having to serve that suspension at the start of next season, when he may be healthy, though given the lateness in the season of his Achilles injury, that is no guarantee, either.
The suspension does include the ramification of a loss of four games’ pay, so the decision to drop the appeal is far from inconsequential, but Smith restructured his contract and only has a minimum base salary this year. His base salary next year is $9 million according to Over the Cap, so he would stand to lose far more per game—more than 10 times more—than if he were to serve it now.
Smith is now the second important cornerback that the Ravens, however, have lost for the season, even if they have sought to rebuild the unit. Second-year cornerback Tavon Young, who started in the slot last season as a rookie but also ended up starting, was in line to open up the year in the nickel, but suffered a season-ending injury in the spring.
That injury did open the door for rookie first-round pick Marlon Humphrey to play, and he has lived up to expectations for the Ravens. While he has technically only made one start in 12 games, he has recorded 25 tackles with two interceptions and eight passes defensed, the takeaways coming over the span of the previous three games.
Smith also suffered a season-ending injury late last year, but the team feels more comfortable in their depth this time around. “It’s different than it has been before”, head coach John Harbaugh said. “We have a lot of good, young players. We’ll step up, and we’ll still play at a really high level in the secondary. I’m really confident in that”.
On the season, the Ravens rank third in total passing yardage allowed and eighth in yards per attempt. They have given up the third-fewest passing touchdowns while recording the most interceptions—20—by a margin of four compared to the next-closest team.
They are one of seven teams allowing fewer than 60 percent of their targets to be completed, and their quarterback rating allowed of 68.2 is second only to the Jaguars who have a lead, even a commanding lead, in most statistical passing categories.