It feels a bit weird to say, but Jimmy Smith is now entering his ninth season with the Ravens. Alongside Brandon Carr, Smith is a rare veteran and elder head in a young cornerback corps featuring Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young, and Anthony Averett, among others.
From top-to-bottom, Baltimore may have the most talent at the cornerback position in the entire league, and Smith certainly plays a big part in this. Smith’s always been very good in press/man coverage, but his availability has unfortunately been his biggest weakness over the years.
Here are four goals for Smith ahead of the 2019-20 season. Be sure to share your thoughts below and join the conversation!
1) Remind everyone of how good he is
With so many talented names around him, it’s easy to forget how good Jimmy Smith is when he’s playing to his full potential. The combination of injuries and suspensions over the past several seasons has also played a role in this. When healthy, active, and on the field, Smith has played at a borderline-elite level numerous times throughout his career. At age 30, however, Smith’s nearing the end of his prime years. This is a big season for him to remind fans and spectators of what’s capable of and prove that he can still perform at a high level.
2) Stay on the field
The easiest way for Smith to remind others how good he is is actually staying on the field, which has unfortunately been a struggle for him over the years. Smith’s injury history has been well-documented, but some off-field conduct issues have popped up in recent years, too. Overall, Smith has played 16 games in just two of eight seasons and has not played a full season since 2015. Over the past three seasons, Smith has missed five, four, and four games, respectively. Smith isn’t getting any younger and the wear and tear of injuries throughout his career have likely shortened his prime, but remaining healthy in 2019-20 should be perhaps his biggest goal.
3) Earn a new contract
Smith is entering the final season of his four-year contract he signed with the Ravens in 2016. While he’s played in Baltimore his entire career and recently expressed a desire to return, he also acknowledged the uncertainty of his future with the team following the upcoming 2019-20 campaign. Addressing the media following an OTA’s practice a couple weeks ago, Smith said, “The Ravens know I always want to be here, but whatever happens, happens ... if I’m here, I’ll be obviously grateful. If not, I’ll continue my career somewhere else.”
Whether it’s with the Ravens or another team, this is likely the final chance for Smith to earn a significant contract going forward as he progresses into his mid-30’s. If he plays at a high level and stays on the field, Baltimore may feel inclined to throw him the bag to keep him around for at least a couple more seasons. However, the team is deep at the position and there’s several other potential younger, in-house replacements on the roster. Nevertheless, a big season for Smith will go in influencing his financial situation and stability.
4) Make the Pro Bowl
It’s hard to believe Smith has zero Pro Bowl appearances under his belt, but such is the case. While there’s likely been at least a season or two where Smith was simply snubbed, injuries have really prevented him from making a mark on the national stage. With his prime window slowly closing, Smith may only have so many chances left to earn a Pro Bowl nod. Doing so should be high on the list of personal goals for Smith, as he lacks many accolades outside of a Super Bowl victory in 2012. It won’t be easy given the cornerback talent in the NFL and on his own team, but Smith could surprise with a standout year.