The Baltimore Ravens drafted Jimmy Smith, the cornerback out of Colorado, in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. A minor curiosity is that this is one of the rare instances in which a team has had their original pick skipped over because they went over their allotted time. The Ravens were trying to make a trade to go back a few picks, but everything wasn’t submitted in time, so the team behind them was able to make their selection before they were put back on the board.
That’s not really relevant to the discussion at hand, except, perhaps, to say that the Ravens were willing to risk losing out on him in 2011, and they are willing to do so again in 2020, allowing the nine-year veteran to test unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career.
And really, there’s no reason for them not to. With Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters already in place, plus Tavon Young in the slot and Brandon Carr as a backup, Baltimore isn’t really hurting for quality players in the secondary.
“We’ve had conversations during the season, we’ve had conversations with Jimmy since the season. Lots of respect for Jimmy. Thought he played his best football later in the year”, said general manager Eric DeCosta.
“Jimmy’s a guy that we value, so we’ll see. I suspect Jimmy’s going to want to hit the market and assess what his value is, as he probably should”, he added. “He’s a veteran, he’s worked hard to see what his value is on the market. Lots of respect for Jimmy as a player. His agent and I have a really good relationship. So we’ll just see”.
I’m really tempted to pull a Seinfeld here, but I’ll resist. While Smith has at various points in his career looked like an elite cornerback, his biggest issue has been staying healthy. He has only played in more than 12 games in a single season twice in his nine years, which is actually pretty astounding.
He has only played in 107 of a possible 144 games in his career, amounting to two full seasons, plus an extra five games. He has missed 18 games over the course of the past four seasons, including seven during the 2019 season.
Smith, who will be 32 in July, just completed a four-year contract extension worth over $41 million, $21 million of which was fully guaranteed. He had a base salary of $9.5 million in 2019 with a cap hit a bit under $16 million, partly due to a contract restructure in 2017.
It will be interesting to see what Smith’s market is now. He has still put up reasonably good numbers when he is on the field, but anybody looking for a starter will be trusting that they will have somebody they can rely on being on the field. Now on the wrong side of 30, he’s not likely to suddenly be less susceptible to the sort of injuries that have sidelined him over the years.