Photo Courtesy: USA Today

This Might Just Be Jimmy Smith’s Last Year in Baltimore

August 24, 2018 - 11:37 am

By Joe Schiller

Jimmy Smith is walking on thin ice.

The veteran cornerback was recently suspended for the first four games of the 2018 NFL regular season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy related to a custody dispute with the mother of his child. Pair that with the four games Smith was suspended last season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and that’s a total of eight straight games he’s set to miss due to suspensions.

It seems to be the same storyline almost every season. The talent is there with Smith – no doubt about it – a reason why he was a first-round pick out of Colorado. That talent was on display just last season when he was quietly putting together an All-Pro campaign among one of the best secondaries in the league.

But like it’s happened too many times before, his season was cut short.

Of 112 regular season games over the course of Smith’s seven-year career, he’s played in just 86. He’s suffered injuries seemingly out of his control but despite tearing his Achilles in December, two recent suspensions have overshadowed that recovery. Smith’s absence down the final stretch of the season has hurt the Ravens’ secondary, who've lacked depth at the position up until this year. 

The 30-year-old cornerback has the second-highest cap hit on the roster this season ($15.35 million) only behind Joe Flacco. That number increases next season to $15.850 million as Smith enters the final year of a four-year contract extension.

The Ravens can save $9.5 million in cap room releasing Smith before the 2019 season and the secondary is as deep as it's ever been and loaded with young talent. Marlon Humphrey is quickly emerging as viable starting cornerback while Tavon Young, Maurice Canady, and Anthony Averett are all expected to be heavy contributors. Can the Ravens truly justify paying what will then be a 31-year-old cornerback who’s only played a full 16-game regular season twice?

The possibility that this could be Smith’s last season as a Raven isn’t farfetched – it's slowly starting to creep into reality.