If you weren’t watching the game Sunday afternoon, or if you haven’t seen, The Ravens defense had a sack party. Getting to quarterback Marcus Mariota 11 times. Having more sacks than Mariota had completions. And putting up more sacks in one game than some teams have all season. Not giving Mariota a clean pocket to throw out of all day. Also shutting out the AFC south leaders. The defense made quite the statement this Sunday, as they now are the NFL’s best defensive unit. But the player that really shined, was SAM linebacker, Za’Darius Smith. Racking up three total sacks and a force fumble in the shutout win in Tennessee. After Sundays win, Smith is currently tied for fifth among NFL sack leaders. Currently in front of guys like Khalil Mack, Myles Garrett and Aaron Donald.
Watching the game on Sunday, among being happy to get back in the win column after a disastrous loss vs the Browns, there were some Baltimore fans that were watching thinking to themselves: “He’s probably going to get a payday this offseason. And it could be somewhere else”. Smith could very well be a coveted pass rusher when free agency hits this upcoming offseason. And fans would hate to see another homegrown guy, take a payday elsewhere. Smith, a fourth-year guy out Kentucky and a member of the Ravens 2015 draft class, was arguably their best pick that weekend.
We have to ask, is re-signing Smith priority number two for new general manager Eric Decosta this offseason? And if it isn’t, where does it fall? The obvious first priority is locking up linebacker CJ Mosley for the foreseeable future. Both Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs will be free agents. Re-signing both of them for the 2019 season you think would be something that DeCosta sets out on doing. Looking at the Ravens and their cap room, there might be some issues. Because other teams just might throw the bank at Smith if he continues to play the way he has been. And if they can’t resign the young pass rusher, it’s something that they’ll have to address in the 2019 draft. Because both Tyus bowser and Tim Williams haven’t shown to be that guy, at least not so far. Its also a position that will be loaded come April, depending on where Baltimore is drafting. As it looks right now, they won’t be drafting high. Which is a good thing. But if they don’t secure Smith over the offseason, drafting a pass rusher will jump to the front of the line in terms of draft need.
Locking up those three guys won’t be the only bullet points on Decosta’s to do list. Re-signing wide receiver John Brown will also be up there, as he also has had himself a great start to the 2018 season. Being a solid deep threat target for quarterback Joe Flacco. Being third in the NFL with catches going for 25 yards or longer. Drafting a young wide receiver will also be something DeCosta will have to think about in the offseason among signing Smith, Suggs and Brown.