Throughout this offseason, the Ravens' greatest area of need has remained the inside linebacker position.
Now, the Ravens hope they've upgraded their depth by signing proven veteran linebacker Daryl Smith to a one-year contract Wednesday.
And the Jacksonville Jaguars' all-time leading tackler didn't come with an expensive price tag. Although
terms weren't immediately available, two sources told The Baltimore Sun that the Ravens didn't make a major financial investment in Smith.
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The Ravens cut oft-injured former University of North Carolina outside linebacker Michael McAdoo to create a roster spot for Smith. McAdoo signed with the Ravens in 2011 as an undrafted rookie after being passed over in the supplemental draft, but spent the past two seasons on injured reserve with Achilles tendon and knee injuries.
One of the most productive linebackers in the NFL over the past nine seasons, Smith, 31, is coming off an injury-plagued year where he was limited to two starts and a career-worst six tackles. He spent the majority of the season on the injured reserve-designated to return list due to a sports hernia.
That significantly damaged Smith's stock as an unrestricted free agent after his five-year, $24.9 million contract extension that included $10 million in guaranteed money expired in March. Smith visited the St. Louis Rams in April, but left town without a deal.
Smith has never been selected to a Pro Bowl, but is regarded highly around the league for his tackling, range and character. He's expected to compete for a starting job at inside linebacker in the Ravens' 3-4 scheme.
Inside linebacker has been a spot of uncertainty and change for the Ravens since winning the Super Bowl earlier this year.
It's been impacted by Ray Lewis' retirement, Dannell Ellerbe signing a $35 million contract with the Miami Dolphins, Jameel McClain still not being fully cleared from a spinal cord contusion, second-round rookie Arthur Brown having sports hernia surgery and trouble-prone Rolando McClain abruptly retiring.
By acquiring Smith, the Ravens have boosted their experience level at inside linebacker. Smith has 124 career starts including 103 at outside linebacker and 21 at middle linebacker.
The 6-foot-2, 248-pound 2004 Jaguars second-round draft pick from Georgia Tech has registered 1,090 career tackles, 21 1/2 sacks, six interceptions and nine forced fumbles.
Until last year, Smith had started every game during the previous three seasons. In 2011, Smith had 107 tackles, 15 for losses, two forced fumbles and one interception with a career-high eight pass deflections.
During a span of seven consecutive seasons from 2005 to 2011, Smith posted at least 100
tackles per year.