Why Torrey Smith is priority for extension

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh made it clear the team wants to keep its top two picks from the 2011 draft, cornerback Jimmy Smith and receiver Torrey Smith, for the long term.

The first in line for an extension is Torrey Smith, the Ravens' second-round pick that year. Why is he a priority over first-rounder Jimmy Smith?

It goes back to the collective bargaining agreement, which allows teams to keep first-round picks for a fifth season by exercising an option in May. This is the first year that it has gone into effect.

So, to keep Jimmy Smith from becoming an unrestricted free agent, the Ravens need to pick up his option before the May 3 deadline. All the Ravens have to do is pay him an average of the 25 highest-paid cornerbacks, with the top three excluded. That means Jimmy Smith won't be a free agent until 2016, and the Ravens could put the franchise tag on him to retain him another year.

"We have no doubt that we’ll be investing the option in Jimmy when the time comes," Harbaugh said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. "We are hopeful that we can sign Jimmy long-term. That will be our goal."

The more immediate concern is Torrey Smith, who is entering the final year of his deal. The receiver is the type of player the Ravens like to extend because there is little risk in giving him a big-money contract. He is a high-character player whose receiving yards have increased every season.

The Ravens are hoping to get a deal done with Torrey Smith before the draft.