At the top of his game, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith has shown an ability to be a star cornerback in the NFL. Unfortunately, being at the top of his game means that he also has to be healthy, and as long as Smith has been in the NFL he has struggled to stay on the field for an entire season.
With a contract such as his and all the hype aimed at him coming into the NFL, Smith has yet to prove that he is worth the money and the hype.
Jimmy Smith’s career
Jimmy Smith began playing on the big stage at the University of Colorado. While he spent much of his first season on the bench, Smith quickly became one of the best defensive players in college football, and by the time he was a senior he was good for 57 tackles on the season. This was good enough to get him drafted into the first round of the NFL Draft in 2011.
The Baltimore Ravens selected Smith with the 27th pick overall. Beginning as a bench player, Smith helped the Ravens fortify their depth as a bench option, getting two interceptions and 20 tackles during his rookie season.
He followed that up with a 30-tackle season during his sophomore campaign in which the Ravens would win the Super Bowl. This was enough to impress the Ravens into giving him a starting spot the following year.
Smith would respond with the best season of his career, with 49 tackles and a pair of interceptions. He helped give a little strength to the Ravens defense following the departure of linebacker and the team’s emotional leader, Ray Lewis.
His injury-riddled 2014 season, however, would be a sign for things to come, and after a healthy 2015 campaign, Smith would never have another injury or suspension-free season.
Jimmy Smith’s contract
In 2016, the Baltimore Ravens took a chance and signed a four-year, $41M deal in which they guaranteed Smith a $21M signing bonus. Although they had failed to get back into the Super Bowl team of three years earlier, Smith had been a juggernaut on defense when he could stay healthy, and although he had injury scares in the past, the Ravens expected him to be a standard presence on their team.
Although the injuries during the deal have not been catastrophic, Smith hasn’t played more than 12 games on the deal. He was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs back in 2017, and this year he has only played one game so far.
Although he is not sniffing the money that top-tier quarterbacks are making, the Ravens expect a healthy and suspension-free Smith on the field, and so far this has not happened.
This has people wondering if he can salvage the final year of his deal and help the team win.
Can he still help the Baltimore Ravens?
Although John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens are having a season for the ages, this does not mean that Smith cannot help them. Lamar Jackson has proven that he is the real deal after breaking out last season, and while the Ravens’ offense is second in the NFL, their defense has been middling.
This is where Jimmy Smith can help if he can stay out on the field. Although the Ravens currently boast eight more points per game than their opponents, later in the year the defense will have to be reliable, and a presence such as Smith’s could be the key to getting those points down even more. He has shown an ability to hunt down players and make them pay, and being able to do so can only help Jackson and the offense.
Smith will be a free agent during this coming season, and if he wants to sign a worthwhile deal, he’s going to have to show that he can play healthy and checked in. Otherwise, it could be a long offseason for him come February.