Za'Darius Smith is not returning to Baltimore, after all. The two-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker is not singing his deal with the Ravens and will instead re-enter free agency, as confirmed by CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora.
Smith had come to terms with Baltimore on four-year, $35 million deal that had a max value of $50 million. But instead of returning to Baltimore (where he broke into the NFL and played from 2015-18), he has instead chosen to continue his career elsewhere. In the process, Smith becomes arguably one of the best-available players on the open market. A two-time Pro Bowler with the Packers, the 29-year-old is looking to return to form after missing all but one game last year with a back injury. Green Bay released Smith on March 14, the first day of the NFL's legal tampering period.
Smith is the third player this week to reverse course after initially agreeing on a contract. Former Cowboys pass rusher Randy Gregory decided to sign with the Broncos after he initially decided to remain in Dallas. Instead of bolting for Buffalo, running back J.D. McKissic decided to remain in Washington, signing a two-deal with the Commanders.
The Ravens -- who were able to sign former Saints safety Marcus Williams to a long-term deal this week -- were hoping that Smith would help revive a pass rush that registered just 34 sacks last season. Instead, Baltimore will have to go back to the drawing board as it relates to strengthening its pass rush. Among the outside linebackers currently available in free agency include Anthony Barr, A.J. Klein, Melvin Ingram, K.J. Wright and Eric Wilson.