The Ravens made a blockbuster trade for Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith on Monday, a day before the deadline, to shore up the middle of their defense.
To help break down what kind of player Baltimore is getting, The Baltimore Sun asked Chicago Tribune’s Bears reporter Dan Wiederer, who has covered the two-time All-Pro since he entered the league, to answer three questions about Smith.
Is there any chance he becomes a distraction for the Ravens?
Dan Wiederer: It’s hard to imagine Smith becomes a major distraction to the Ravens over the next 10 weeks. He has shown an ability to separate his contract desires and disappointments from his responsibility to his teammates and coaches. That’s why, even after a tense summer contract squabble with the Bears, Smith found a way to produce in the first eight games — becoming the league’s leading tackler while contributing 2 1/2 sacks and two interceptions. The Ravens should be getting a player who remains motivated to prove he should be rewarded as one of the best playmaking defenders. So that’s where Smith will put much, if not all, of his focus from now until season’s end. Any potential distraction he might cause is a minimum of four months away.
What value does he add to the defense on passing downs?
Wiederer: Smith has long been valued by his coordinators — and he had four in five seasons in Chicago — as a three-down linebacker with the versatility to contribute in all facets. He can be utilized as an effective blitzer when needed and has solid coverage skills. Both of his interceptions this season came in big moments late in games, one that set up the game-winning field goal to beat the Texans and the other to help seal an upset of the Patriots on “Monday Night Football.”
How did you expect the Bears to handle him in free agency?
Wiederer: The best-case scenario is they could find common ground on his true worth and hammer out a long-term extension that would have allowed him to stay with the Bears as a building block. There was never much serious consideration for using the franchise tag on him because it’s pretty darn expensive for an inside linebacker and would only have heightened Smith’s discontent about not having a long-term contract. It’s still a bit of a surprise in Chicago that Smith and a new regime couldn’t get on the same page. He’s only 25 and already a two-time second-team All-Pro. But today’s game calls for grand investments in quarterbacks, pass rushers and receivers more than it does off-the-ball linebackers. The Bears made a calculated decision in that regard and it’s now Eric DeCosta’s turn to play “Let’s Make A Deal.”