Ravens offensive tackle Andre Smith, an experienced veteran who was expected to contend for a backup job this year, has opted out of the 2020 season, the team announced Tuesday.
Smith is the second Raven in as many days to opt out of a season threatened by the coronavirus pandemic, joining wide receiver and kick returner De’Anthony Thomas. His decision was first reported by NFL Network.
As part of the agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, players who voluntarily opt out will receive a $150,000 stipend, and their contract will toll, meaning it will pick up next year where it is now. Players who decide to opt out for medical reasons will receive a $350,000 stipend, and their contracts also will toll.
Smith, 33, a 2009 first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, signed with the Ravens in January and agreed to a one-year extension a month later. He was by far the oldest offensive lineman on the team, but his absence leaves the Ravens with one less option at tackle.
Behind Pro Bowl bookends Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr., there’s little experience on the depth chart. Third-round pick Tyre Phillips played left tackle at Mississippi State but is expected to contend for the right guard job. Patrick Mekari played both left tackle and right tackle at California but is likewise better suited as an interior lineman. Will Holden has starting experience at tackle but hasn’t appeared in a game since 2018.
With Smith’s decision, the Ravens have 81 players on their active roster, which they’re expected to cut down to the league-mandated 80 in the coming days.
Running back Gus Edwards, meanwhile, signed his exclusive-rights tender Tuesday and will make $750,000 this year. Edwards, who finished third in the NFL last season in yards per carry (5.3), will be a restricted free agent next offseason.
Note: Former Ravens standout and current Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Michael Pierce opted out of the 2020 season because of respiratory concerns. He signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Vikings in March and was expected to replace Linval Joseph.
“If I caught [the coronavirus], I probably would be in some real trouble,” Pierce, who suffers from asthma, told the Pioneer Press. “If I were to get sick, anytime you’re talking about a fatality or ending up in the hospital for months, that’s not really a good decision.”
It’s unclear how Pierce’s decision will affect the NFL’s compensatory-pick formula.