Daryl Smith was Pro Football Focus’ 2nd ranked 4-3 outside linebacker in 2011, but missed most of the 2012 season with injury and was undervalued on the open market, coming from Jacksonville and going into his age 31 season. The Ravens wisely snatched him up and plugged him in at Ray Lewis’ old spot at middle linebacker. Smith proved to be a great addition, providing an upgrade over the late career Lewis, grading out as Pro Football Focus 16th ranked middle linebacker.
He’s now going into his age 32 season, but 4.1 million annually (16.4 million over 4 years) is a very reasonable sum to pay for him and there isn’t a lot of guaranteed money. Ozzie Newsome continues to prove he’s one of the best general managers in the NFL. Teams with rotating doors at GM overpay on big splash moves early in free agency that usually don’t work out, while the top GMs, guys like Ted Thompson (Green Bay), Bill Belichick (New England), Trent Baalke (San Francisco), John Schneider (Seattle), Jerry Reese (NY Giants) and Newsome draft well, re-sign their own guys on reasonable deals, and wait for free agency to come to them.