NFL suspends Ravens CB Smith four games

The NFL announced a four-game suspension for Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith on Tuesday for violating the league's personal-conduct policy.

The Ravens released a statement saying they "fully support the NFL's decision," adding the league "found evidence of threatening and emotionally abusive behaviors by Jimmy toward his former girlfriend that showed a pattern of improper conduct. Our player's behavior was inappropriate and wrong. ...

"We consulted with relationship and domestic violence experts for their perspectives," the statement continued. "We convened a group of Ravens women and men executives, not directly involved with our football operations, to review the matter. We also engaged in conversations with Jimmy about his past behavior and his intention to change.

"Additionally, it is our understanding that following a long-running and difficult custody dispute with his former girlfriend and mother of his son, Jimmy has resolved his custody and support issues. ...

"We will allow Jimmy to return to our team after his suspension. Jimmy has acknowledged his behaviors were wrong and accepts full responsibility for them. He has completed a clinical evaluation and has agreed to undertake any follow-up care or treatment that may be recommended. ... We believe he is taking the proper steps to improve and that he can change. Jimmy has assured us that he is fully dedicated to making this change. He also understands the consequences if he does not."

The Baltimore Sun reported in November that -- during a child custody case between Smith and Micaela Sanchez, the mother of his first child -- details emerged from Sanchez alleging domestic violence and drug use by Smith, which the Ravens veteran denied. According to multiple reports Tuesday, the league did not find evidence of physical violence, but it found evidence of "threatening" behavior.

"I would like to sincerely apologize to my former girlfriend, the NFL, the Ravens organization, my coaches, my teammates, my fiancee and all our fans," Smith said in a statement, in part. "I'm very disappointed that my past actions have led to this suspension. I promise that I have already learned much and will continue to learn more from this experience."

The Athletic reported Monday that the Ravens were bracing for a multi-week suspension for Smith, who left the team over the weekend and met with league officials Monday as part of his appeal.

Smith will sit out home games against the Buffalo Bills (Sept. 9) and Denver Broncos (Sept. 23), as well as two prime-time road games against AFC North rivals: a Thursday night visit to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, and a Sunday night trip to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4. He will be eligible to rejoin the team Oct. 1, a day after the Steelers game.

Smith will forfeit about $2.12 million in salary.

The suspension continues a tumultuous several months for Smith, who was enjoying perhaps his best season in 2017 before sustaining a torn Achilles tendon in early December, weeks after the Baltimore Sun report emerged. Before the injury, Smith was appealing a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. After getting hurt, he accepted that suspension and served it over the season's final four games while on injured reserve.

Smith, who turned 30 last month, joined his Baltimore teammates on the field at mandatory minicamp in June, about two months ahead of schedule in his recovery, and he has been a full participant at training camp.

In seven seasons with Baltimore, Smith has played in all 16 games in just two seasons (2013 and 2015), missing four-plus games in all of the other years.

In 86 career games (68 starts), Smith has 11 career interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) and 254 tackles. The Ravens chose Smith with the No. 27 selection in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

--Field Level Media