The Ravens are prepared to use the franchise tag on linebacker Matt Judon if they cannot reach a long-term deal with him this offseason, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. Judon has already set a career-high in sacks in 2019 with 8.5, and he looks poised to make a lot of money in 2020.
The fourth-year player from D-II Grand Valley State has established himself as Baltimore’s most consistent pass rusher this year, and he is also a capable defender against the run. He has not yet become one of the league’s elite, but he continues to be on an upward trajectory, and the Ravens will have a fairly healthy cap situation for the first time in a long time in 2020. Plus, with QB Lamar Jackson still on his rookie deal, now is the time to lock up other core players.
The team lost Za’Darius Smith to free agency last offseason, and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has generally had to rely on blitzes to pressure the QB this year. Even if they retain Judon, the Ravens could be in the market for another pass rusher in free agency, and they will hope for continued growth from rookie Jaylon Ferguson.
Per La Canfora, rival GMs have resigned themselves to the fact that Judon will not hit the open market in 2020. If the Ravens do tag Judon, they would buy themselves until the middle of July to work out a multi-year pact. The franchise tag is expected to be worth roughly $17MM.
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