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Ravens expect Jimmy Smith to reach free agency; Eric DeCosta keen on extensions for two ‘elite’ players

INDIANAPOLIS — Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is expected to become a free agent, general manager Eric DeCosta said Tuesday, while the team has yet to decide on defensive back Brandon Carr’s 2020 contract option.

Smith was one of the NFL’s highest-paid cornerbacks last season, but with Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Tavon Young headlining the Ravens’ depth chart at the position in 2020, Smith could get bigger offers elsewhere.

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“Lots of respect for Jimmy as a player," DeCosta told Baltimore reporters after a news conference in Indianapolis, site of the NFL scouting combine. The two sides have had ongoing negotiations since last season, DeCosta added.

“I thought he played his best football later in the year. Jimmy’s a guy that we value, so we’ll see. I suspect that Jimmy’s going to want to hit the market and assess what his value is, and he probably should. ... I wish Jimmy the best, no matter what. We’d love to see him back in Baltimore, but he’s a free agent. So we’ll see what happens.”

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Carr, who transitioned from cornerback to safety last season and has started 192 consecutive games over his career, has a $7 million team option for 2020, the last year on his contract. The Ravens could decline the option and re-sign the 33-year-old for less in free agency, but a decision must be made by March 18, the start of free agency.

“We’ll have a decision by then, for sure," DeCosta said. "Love Brandon, much respect for Brandon, everything he stands for as a veteran guy that just plays and plays and plays, and his leadership, what he brings to the table, a versatile guy, corner, safety, great attitude, outlook on life, all that kind of stuff. So we’ve been very, very happy with Brandon.”

Ravens keen on ‘elite’ extensions

The Ravens have begun to negotiate contract extensions with All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley and All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey, DeCosta said.

Signing homegrown stars to long-term extensions before they reach free agency has become a priority under DeCosta, who said he expects to meet with Stanley’s agent in Indianapolis this week. The former first-round pick is set to become a free agent after next season.

“We love Ronnie," DeCosta said. “He played his butt off this year. ... We’re excited about that, excited about his future, excited about the player and excited about the person. So we’ll try to continue to have those dialogues as well.”

The Ravens could be a year away from a similar investment in Humphrey, who’s entering his fourth year in Baltimore. While DeCosta said the team would almost certainly exercise his fifth-year option this offseason, he called Humphrey "another guy [that] we want to try and keep. Elite, young players — we think Ronnie and Marlon are two of those guys.”

Extra points

>> While DeCosta declined to delve into specifics about the health of center Matt Skura (knee), safety DeShon Elliott (knee) and cornerback Tavon Young (neck), he said the team feels good about their recoveries from season-ending injuries. "I check in with those guys quite a bit. All three of those guys have great attitudes and a tremendous work ethic. We’re confident that at some point, they’ll be on the field playing good football for us.”

>> DeCosta said the wide receiver class in this year’s draft is “strong.” At least six receivers could be taken in the first round alone. “We see a bunch of guys this year who will probably be first- and second-round picks. There’s a lot of volume at the position. There are some really talented guys.”

>> DeCosta called LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, who’s widely expected to be the Cincinnati Bengals’ No. 1 overall draft pick, “one of the best quarterbacks we’ve seen in a long time.”

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