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Ravens’ Roquan Smith enjoying new journey away from Bears: ‘My career is not going down the drain’


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Baltimore Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith is enjoying his time playing for one of the AFC’s top teams, especially this season at 7-2. It’s been a different world contending for a playoff spot and Super Bowl title compared to his time with the Chicago Bears. 

Smith’s recent comments about his life with the Ravens seems to throw a bit of shade toward the team that drafted him eighth overall, though he was eventually traded away to the Ravens last season before the NFL deadline. 

“And when I just think about it from the perspective of having the opportunity to compete for one, year in and year out, with the talent we have, man, it makes me so happy, just knowing my career is not going down the drain in the sense of playing somewhere where I’m not truly competing for a title,” Smith told Sports Illustrated.


Roquan Smith talks to players

Roquan Smith of the Baltimore Ravens leads a huddle prior to the game against the Detroit Lions at M&T Bank Stadium on October 22, 2023, in Baltimore. (Michael Owens/Getty Images)

It was Smith’s request to be traded out of Chicago after four seasons with the franchise led to individual success but lacked in the team department toward the end of his tenure.

The Bears were 12-4 in his rookie year, eventually losing in the Wild Card Round. An 8-8 season in 2020 also saw a Wild Card Round appearance, though Chicago would fall yet again after one playoff game.

But the Bears were 6-11 in 2021 and were on the way to a league-worst 3-14 last year before Smith was shipped off to Baltimore. 


Smith was also ready to get a new contract. He tried to negotiate with the Bears prior to requesting a trade, but it didn’t work out. He ended up playing eight games with the Bears, totaling 83 tackles and 2.5 sacks before being traded on Halloween in 2022.

Now with the Ravens, Smith explained how much he loves the organization, especially considering the playoff run they’re currently on.

“It means the world to me, being a Raven,” Smith explained. “And how they came and got me when I was in Chicago and just all the love they showed me throughout my time here, I just only imagine it’s going to grow even bigger. So, when I think about it from that perspective, I pride myself on playing until the whistle, playing every single play as hard as I can. But like just being here, there’s something about that that makes you want to go even harder with all the legends that came before me, like Ed [Reed], Ray [Lewis], Bart [Scott] …”

Roquan Smith snarls

Roquan Smith of the Baltimore Ravens looks on prior to a game against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 1, 2023. (Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

“When I just think about it from that perspective, man, it makes me proud just knowing that I’m playing behind such a historic tradition.”

Smith made an immediate impact for the Ravens, who reached the Wild Card Round last season and lost to the Cincinnati Bengals. He had two sacks, 86 tackles, three passes defended and one interception in nine games for the Ravens. 

In his first full season, Smith continues to be one of the best middle linebackers in the game, collecting 87 tackles and 1.5 sacks with five passes defended over nine contests. 

And he’ll be a Raven for quite a while after the team gave him the lucrative deal for he was looking for at $100 million ($45 million guaranteed) over the next five years. 

Roquan Smith talks to players

Roquan Smith of the Baltimore Ravens leads a huddle prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at M&T Bank Stadium on November 5, 2023, in Baltimore. (Michael Owens/Getty Images)


Since Smith was traded, the Ravens have gone 12-6 while the Bears are 2-16.

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