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Ravens pay big price, will likely pay even more later, to acquire star LB

A big name, a big trade but it will be interesting to see it play out in the long run.

NFL: Chicago Bears at New England Patriots Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, the Baltimore Ravens continue to be aggressive. The current leaders of the AFC North, the Ravens have reportedly acquired LB Roquan Smith from the Chicago Bears. We noted earlier today that Baltimore rarely shies away from making trades even if they don’t often work out.

Today’s trade for Smith could turn out to be one of those trades.

To acquire Smith, the Ravens traded second and fifth-round picks in 2023, along with LB AJ Klein. While Smith is talented, that is a lot to give away for a player who is set for free agency at the end of this season.

This leads to the second way Baltimore could be set to pay up with Smith: A new contract.

The 25-year-old Smith is next in line for a big payday. Currently, Shaquille Leonard, Fred Warner and CJ Mosley top the linebacker pay scale with deals of $85 million or more. Foeysade Oluokun joins those three as ‘backers with average salaries of $15 million or more a year.

While the Ravens could afford to pay Smith the going market rate, they also haven’t worked out a deal for their star quarterback, Lamar Jackson. While a long-term deal can be worked out to spread out cap space, will Baltimore be willing to sign Smith to a deal of around $100 million in the same offseason that Jackson breaks the bank at quarterback?

If they can’t keep Jackson around, is paying a linebacker huge money still a good idea?

Unlike the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore is able to be aggressive in-season to bolster a team that already is winning. The Browns could make a deal to improve their team but the deal may not significantly change the outcome of this season.

The trade deadline is Tuesday afternoon. Will Smith be the biggest deal or the first big deal before the deadline?