This was originally reported to be a 4-year, 48 million dollar deal, but that’s not entirely accurate. Smith’s contract is worth 48 million, but that’s including the 6.9 million dollar player option he has for 2015. This contract is actually “only” worth 41.1 million in new money over 4 years. That’s an average of 10.275 million annually in new money, good for 6th highest in the NFL among cornerbacks. Smith is guaranteed 21 million over the first 2 years of the deal, including a 13 million dollar signing bonus, and has non-guaranteed salaries of 8.5 million, 9 million, and 9.5 million in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Simply put, it’s a lot of money. As I mentioned, it’s the 6th most expensive contract in terms of average annual salary among cornerbacks in the NFL. Smith has played like that at times. A 1st round pick in 2011, Smith moved into the starting lineup in 2012, after impressing on 256 snaps as a rookie, and has improved in every season as a starter, grading out 112th (2nd worst in the NFL) in 2012, 35th in 2013, and 20th in 2014. He was even better than that suggests in 2012 as he did that on 476 snaps, missing 8 games with a foot injury. Through the first 7 games of the season, before his injury, he was Pro Football Focus’ 10th ranked cornerback, including 4th in pure coverage grade, allowing 51.3% completion and 4.18 yards per attempt on 39 attempts.
The Ravens are obviously banking that Smith continues developing into one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, going into his age 27 season. That certainly could happen, but this deal seems to have way more downside than upside. Best case scenario, Smith becomes one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL and the Ravens are paying him appropriately. But there’s also a strong chance that Smith never really consistently shows top level ability or gets hurt again (he’s missed 17 games in 4 seasons in the NFL). It’s not a terrible deal, but it is an overpay by a team that already has a bunch of large contracts on their books going forward.