Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith has agreed to sign a deal with the Green Bay Packers, the latest but most expected departure from the Ravens’ top-ranked defense.
Smith’s agency, SportsTrust Advisors, announced that the deal, which cannot be finalized until 4 p.m. Wednesday, is worth $66 million over four years, with a $20 million signing bonus.
Smith led the Ravens with 8½ sacks last season and finished with 60 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, 17th most among edge defenders in the NFL. He was considered the Ravens’ second-best pending free agent, after inside linebacker C.J. Mosley.
General manager Eric DeCosta was hopeful last month that the Ravens might have a “chance” of re-signing the 26-year-old, but he acknowledged that “the market is usually out of control” for edge rushers early in free agency.
Smith, a former fourth-round draft pick, elevated his game in the final year of his rookie contract. After 5½ sacks as a rookie, Smith had a combined 4½ in 2016 and 2017 despite missing just five games over that span. While Smith struggled as a run defender in 2018, he finished behind only Terrell Suggs in defensive snaps among Ravens outside linebackers.
Smith’s departure continues an offseason of attrition for the Ravens defense. In the past week, with Smith’s deal, Eric Weddle joining the Los Angeles Rams, and the pending departures of Mosley and Suggs to the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals, respectively, they have lost their leader in snaps (Weddle), tackles (Mosley), sacks (Smith) and years in Baltimore (Suggs).