On October 31, the Baltimore Ravens sent a pair of picks and linebacker A.J. Klein to the Chicago Bears in exchange for two-time All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith. Just 10 weeks later, the Ravens and Smith signed the richest off-ball linebacker deal in NFL history. According to Smith, the deal didn’t take long to materialize.
“The process kind of started mid-December. Around that time,” Smith said. “So, it got finished pretty quickly. [I] was focusing on ball and then on off days and things of that nature that’s when we [were] getting it done and so it’s just amazing and I’m just excited to be here and keep working and bring championships here.”
Notably, Smith is among the minority in not having an agent represent himself in contract negotiations. Therefore, when it came time to do business, he was the one sitting across from Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta. Smith gave his respect to DeCosta following the deal.
“It wasn’t an easy process, but I have the utmost respect for Eric. I think he is [a] very fair, honest guy,” Smith said. “A lot of times people say all guys—players can’t negotiate without agents and things like that and that’s not something I truly believe in because talking with Eric throughout the process, like I said he was honest, kept his word and man, I got a lot of respect for him. I can’t thank him enough for actually being fair and seeing the value in me and making this happen and making Baltimore home for me. So, I’m extremely excited to be here and call this place home and to be rocking out with my GM.”
It wasn’t the only time Smith gave credit to “EDC,” as he aired appreciation for not only working out the extension, but for acquiring him from the Bears, which is why Smith was happy to avoid free agency and instead lock a deal down with the Ravens.
“I knew free agency was out there but that wasn’t my main focus because I have a lot of respect for ‘EDC’ for coming out and getting me from Chicago so that meant a lot to me,” Smith said. “Knowing someone actually came out to get me.”
“Yeah, we sat down a couple times as well as like emails and things of that nature. Being able to, when I’m in my off-time, like Mondays are our off days, Tuesday, there’s like a half a day there so you can find time for those things and that’s all a part of the business.”
“I knew free agency was out there but that wasn’t my main focus because I have a lot of respect for ‘EDC’ for coming out and getting me from Chicago so that meant a lot to me. Knowing someone actually came out to get me. Getting out with free agency you know yeah [I] may could have got more and things like that but I’m happy where I’m at and I want to be on a team that has a chance to compete year-in and year-out to hoist the Lombardi [Trophy].”