The Baltimore Ravens released Za’Darius Smith from their practice squad Wednesday, clearing the way for Green Bay to potentially sign him. The team announced they were moving on without a replacement, and will now rely on free agent signing Brandon Mason at the position.
Za’Darius Smith’s uncertain future could open door for reunion with the Ravens. The Baltimore Ravens have been in talks to sign Za’Darius Smith, who missed the entire 2018 season due to injury.
Several former Baltimore Ravens players have switched clubs and thrived in their new environments. Za’Darius Smith, an edge rusher, is one of them. The Green Bay Packers’ future with the two-time Pro Bowler is uncertain. However, there’s a significant probability he won’t play in the NFL again in 2022.
The Packers’ head staff may see Smith as a player with whom it can part ways to save money on the salary cap in order to make other offseason moves. If he is released by Green Pay, a reunion with the club that selected him is a distinct possibility.
If the Packers cut Za’Darius Smith, he might reconnect with the Ravens.
The Green Bay Packers have a lot of things to solve heading into the 2022 offseason. Apart from Aaron Rodgers’ uncertain future with the franchise, the front management must identify cost-cutting measures.
Green Bay is presently above the salary limit by $48.4 million, putting the franchise in a precarious position. Za’Darius Smith’s contract runs through 2022, however he has a buyout clause. If the Packers keep him, he’ll have a cap cost of $27.7 million.
Green Bay would not benefit from a trade since Smith’s contract would be carried over into the next league year. It would be better to release the pass rusher. By removing him, the Packers would save roughly $15.3 million in salary space.
It wouldn’t be surprised if the Baltimore Ravens came knocking on Smith’s door if he were to become a free agency.
Smith was drafted in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Kentucky by former general manager Ozzie Newsome. During his four seasons in Baltimore, the Montgomery, Alabama native racked up 119 tackles, 52 quarterback hits, and 18.5 sacks.
To make it work, the two-time Pro Bowler would most likely have to accept a salary reduction.
Green Bay Packers’ Za’Darius Smith on the field before a game against the Baltimore Ravens | Getty Images/Will Newton
Mike Macdonald, the team’s new defensive coordinator, would undoubtedly be delighted to welcome Za’Darius Smith back into the fold. Before earning the defensive coordinator role at Michigan, Macdonald was a member of John Harbaugh’s coaching staff from 2015 until 2020. He worked closely with the linebackers in 2018, so he’s familiar with Smith’s abilities.
The salary cap situation for the Baltimore Ravens isn’t ideal. They should, however, have a far better offseason than the Green Bay Packers.
Baltimore has about $9.8 million in cap space heading into the summer. The team’s revenue is lower than the league average ($13.4 million), but there is still space for improvement. Eric DeCosta, the general manager, will already be faced with tough choices about his own free agents. However, Smith’s release might cause a snag in the front office’s preparations.
Smith, on the other hand, should not anticipate a large salary if he wants to rejoin the Ravens. Baltimore can’t afford to give the 29-year-old edge defender a blank check. In 2019, he agreed to a four-year, $66 million deal with the Packers.
For the transfer to be fiscally viable, Za’Darius Smith would most likely have to accept a hefty wage drop. The chance to compete for a Super Bowl would be the price.
The Ravens’ Super Bowl hopes may make it a reasonable risk.
The Baltimore Ravens’ 2021 season did not finish the way John Harbaugh and the team had hoped. The Ravens had one of the most talented rosters in the NFL as the season began. Injuries, however, ruined an otherwise excellent season.
Baltimore concluded the season with an 8-9 record, losing six of their last seven games. Despite a disappointing season, the Ravens are certain that they will be back in contention for a Super Bowl in 2022. Eric DeCosta and the front office have dominated the offseason in the past, frequently acquiring quality via free agency and the draft.
When healthy, Za’Darius Smith would be a huge addition for one of the greatest teams in the AFC. Tyus Bowser and Odafe Oweh, two edge players on the Ravens defense, have a lot of promise. Smith, on the other hand, would provide Baltimore with a player who has already established himself as one of the league’s finest pass rushers.
The seventh-year veteran played just one game in 2021. Still, he posted back-to-back double-digit sack seasons in 2019 and 2020. His skillset and familiarity would make him a great fit in Baltimore once again. Players like Patrick Queen and Marlon Humphrey took to Twitter to send a subtle recruitment message to Smith.
It won’t be easy, but if the Ravens can pull it off, it will be a huge boost to their Super Bowl prospects.
Pro Football Reference provided all numbers, while Spotrac provided contract statistics.
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