Daryl Smith was the Ravens’ best inside linebacker last season, which makes him an important piece of the team’s offseason puzzle. He led the Ravens in tackles, was third in sacks, and was second in interceptions. If Smith leaves in free agency, the Ravens will need to replace his production.
Set to become a free agent next month, Smith will command more than the one-year, $1.125 million base salary he agreed to with the Ravens in 2013. After the season, Smith said he wanted to return. But money talks. Smith will draw interest from teams that need help at inside linebacker, with the Broncos and Titans being two of his potential suitors.
Without Smith, the Ravens’ inside linebacker position would become a bigger question mark. Is Arthur Brown ready to contribute significantly more than he did as a rookie? Will Josh Bynes continue to improve, after losing his starting job to Jameel McClain late in the season? Would the Ravens be able to acquire anyone else to challenge McClain, Bynes, and Brown for playing time?
Though he turns 32 years old in April, Smith answered questions about his durability and performance last season. He is going to make more money in 2014. If he stays healthy, Smith will perform at a consistent level. That is what Smith does. The question is whether he does that for the Ravens in 2014, or for somebody else.