The 2020 Ravens became the unusual team to roster two franchise-tagged pass rushers, in tagging Matt Judon and trading for Yannick Ngakoue. A year after both edge defenders’ rookie deals expired, each is again on the verge of free agency.
Baltimore attempted to extend Judon last year and will likely do so again, given its dearth of pass rushers signed long-term. But the five-year veteran has aimed for a $20MM-per-year deal, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com notes. The Ravens are projected to be under even a $176MM cap — which may not be the new salary ceiling, with recent reports indicating the upcoming cap freefall will not be as dire as initially feared — but they have a Lamar Jackson extension to discuss and are interested in extending Mark Andrews. The latter will be in a contract year soon.
Although Judon made the Pro Bowl this season, he finished with six sacks and 21 QB hits — down from 9.5 and 33, respectively, in 2019. That said, Ngakoue registered just three sacks and three QB hits in nine Ravens games and played only 20 defensive snaps in the team’s divisional-round loss. Judon does not have a 10-sack season on his resume, however, and could well be heading into free agency at a bad time.
There are currently five edge players earning $20MM-AAV deals. Judon has no chance of venturing into Joey Bosa–Myles Garrett territory (north of $25MM per year), and even a deal in the Frank Clark–DeMarcus Lawrence $21MM-AAV neighborhood might be a stretch considering the circumstances. Teams opted to tag some of the top rushers on the 2020 market, so Judon will join Shaquil Barrett and Bud Dupree again soon.
With a 2021 franchise tag costing 120% of Judon’s $16.8MM salary, the Ravens are unlikely to go there — especially with a cap reduction expected. But the team again has next to nothing at this position long-term, with Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee due for free agency as well, and Judon expressed interest last summer in staying with the Ravens. Although the Ravens have let a few pass rushers land big-ticket deals elsewhere in recent years, they will need an edge plan soon.
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