Truth be told, there is no credibility to the rumors that have swept through the Ravens fandom over the past 24 hours. Not a single reputable source has claimed any knowledge of a brewing trade involving Baltimore’s Jimmy Smith. Not a single reputable source has linked Baltimore to the Texans in trade talks for Fadeveon Clowney either. All of this speculation and hype is simply the product of the Twitter crowd reacting to Smith being sidelined at practice after an injury. As a rumor typically functions, a simple hypothetical statement was quickly morphed into a pseudo-fact, paraded around by the masses who unknowingly fell victim to the allure of an alternative fact.
Until someone can verify these unsubstantiated rumors, that’s all they will be. Regardless of whether the Ravens are really fishing for Jadeveon Clowney and using Jimmy Smith as bait, Baltimore should at least explore the possibility of shipping Mr. Smith to somewhere else.
The curtain on Jimmy Smith’s career in Baltimore is closing. He may not be gone this year, but time is running out for one of the last remaining relics of the championship team. Smith is on the wrong side of thirty now. The 31-year-old is no spring chicken anymore, and it is a matter of time until he can’t perform at a high level.
While Father Time lays out his siege on Smith, the Ravens must come to terms with Smith’s history of unreliability. Jimmy Smith has only ever played a full sixteen games twice in his career, and the last time he did it was in 2015. Smith’s Achilles heel is literally his Achilles tendon. Smith last tore it in 2017. Injuries aren’t Smith’s only roadblock either. He has a history of suspensions. Most recently, Smith was suspended at the end of the 2017 season for violating the NFL’s Performance Enhancing Drugs policy, and to start 2018 for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. It is apparent that the Ravens are wary of placing their eggs in Smith’s basket, as Baltimore allowed the former first-round pick to enter a contract year without an extension. Smith is scheduled to hit free agency in 2020, but first, he’s going to make $15.85 million in 2019. Needless to say, this is a major salary cap expense for the Ravens. To be exact, Smith is eating the most cap space out of any Raven in 2019.
Let me ask you this: If you got to play the role of Eric DeCosta for a day, would you look to trade Jimmy Smith, the highest-paid Raven, the cornerback entering the final year of his contract, and the 31 year old that has only ever played two full and healthy seasons in the NFL?
This information might not be enough to persuade you to open up the phone lines. But maybe this is: The Ravens already have the best young cornerback in the National Football League in Marlon Humphrey, a veteran who has never missed a game in Brandon Carr, and the young Anthony Averett capable of starting of most league rosters. Not to mention, Baltimore also has two guys named Earl Thomas Jr. and Tony Jefferson to man the back end.
The point of this article is not to convince you that Jimmy Smith needs to be traded – he doesn’t. What needs to happen, however, is for Baltimore to keep the phones open, to listen to offers, and explore the possibility. If the right deal comes available, whether it’s for Jadeveon Clowney or not, the Ravens cannot be sentimental in dealing with Smith. The Ravens must explore all options regarding Smith, and keep the future of the team always in mind. The Ravens must also be steadfast in ensuring they don’t make a poor decision either. There is no rush to deal Smith, but a move may be beneficial for Baltimore.
Regardless of what happens, Smith will always be remembered as a true Raven. Smith did not always perform to the highest expectations, but when the bright lights came on and it really mattered, he made plays, won games, and saved seasons. For that, Baltimore will forever be grateful, no matter how his time here ends.