The Ravens didn't break the bank when they acquired veteran middle linebacker Daryl Smith this offseason, signing him to a one-year contract worth $1.125 million that included a $285,000 signing bonus.
The deal has a maximum value of $2.125 million if Smith triggers a reachable $1 million playing time incentive clause.
Based on how Smith has performed during the preseason, the Ravens' relatively modest investment should pay off with major dividends this fall.
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Smith, 31, has been one of the Ravens' most active and aggressive defensive players. The former Jacksonville Jaguars starter leads the team with 14 tackles, including a dozen solos, and has one sack through three preseason games.
Smith has displayed no lingering effects from a sports hernia injury that sidelined him for all but two games during his final season in Jacksonville.
Although Smith had three tackles, including a sack of elusive Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for a loss of 11 yards, during a 34-27 loss Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium, he wasn't satisfied with how the game unfolded.
"This game we really wanted to correct some issues we had last week, just as far as playing fundamental football and with proper technique," Smith said. "We came out, and I think for the most part we did that. We'll definitely watch the film and see some things we can correct, but we'll just have to see how that goes. It's just unfortunat that we couldn't get the win.
"With these games, we try to get in there and communicate more. And I think we'll be able to do that even better once we review the film and make our corrections. So, yeah, each game we're getting a little more comfortable with each other."