The Jacksonville Jaguars, who have been proactive in recent years in retaining their best young players, have signed third-year veteran linebacker Daryl Smith to a five-year extension through the 2012 season.
The deal, ESPN.com has learned, is worth $25 million and includes $10 in bonuses. Smith will earn $15 million in the first three years of the deal.
Smith, 24, had one more season remaining on his original contract, which he signed as a second-round choice in the 2004 draft.
An excellent athlete and well-suited to the Jaguars' defensive style, Smith demonstrated his versatility in 2006 when he moved from weakside linebacker to middle linebacker to replace starter Mike Peterson, who had suffered a torn left pectoral muscle, for the final 11 games. He made a quick transition to the middle, a position he had played in college, and finished with a team-high 170 tackles.
Smith posted double-digit tackles in nine games and played every defensive snap in 13 of 16 starts.
While it doesn't always look like Smith has great explosiveness, he has an uncanny knack for being able to cut through traffic and flow to the football. He is a physical tackler, with nice closing speed, and has shown that he can drop off and cover, in addition to playing the run.
Because of the quality athletes the Jaguars possess on defense, Smith often gets lost in the mix, but he is viewed around the NFL as a young defender in ascendance.
The former Georgia Tech star has appeared in 47 games, with 45 starts, and has 365 tackles, nine sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Over the past two seasons, he has averaged 144 tackles.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.