Smith, 31, was an underrated linebacker during his nine-year career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Ravens were lucky to find such a solid player in June who fills a void.
The Ravens lack experience at inside linebacker after Ray Lewis retired and Dannell Ellerbe signed with the Miami Dolphins. The only veteran at that position now is Jameel McClain and he hasn't been cleared after last season's spinal cord contusion. I recently referred to the Ravens as having a doughnut defense because there was a hole in the middle of it.
Smith is great insurance for the Ravens if Jameel McClain can't return to form or rookie second-round pick Arthur Brown isn't ready to start immediately. He essentially replaces Rolando McClain, who abruptly retired a month ago.
While there were concerns about Rolando McClain's character, the big question with Smith is his health. He played a season-low two games because of a groin injury. Before 2012, Smith hadn't missed a game since 2008. The hope is he doesn't have too much wear and tear at a position that is so physically demanding.
A second-round pick by Jacksonville in 2004, Smith became the Jaguars' all-time leading tackler. He never went to a Pro Bowl despite producing consistently good numbers (he averaged 103 tackles from 2009 to 2011). Sure, Smith is on the downside of his career. But he brings a decade of experience and enough athleticism to play on passing downs.
This signing will likely get lost among the stories on the Super Bowl champions visiting the White House and meeting President Barack Obama. The Ravens, though, quietly upgraded themselves with Smith.