Inside the Roquan Smith deal

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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.

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