For the second straight year, Matt Judon is set to be a free agent. The Ravens kept the standout edge rusher off the market last year by franchise-tagging him, but his tag price will go up this year and do so as the salary cap plummets. That will create issues for most teams considering a tag.
Judon, 28, was adamant last year he preferred to stay in Baltimore. When asked Tuesday about his hopes of returning to the Ravens, the five-year veteran was more open to exploring a path elsewhere.
“I’d love to be back in Baltimore. I haven’t been nowhere else, so I’d love to be back in Baltimore,” Judon said during an interview with Adam Schein of CBS Sports (video link). “Just, it’s gotta line up. It’s gotta be perfect, and we’ve gotta make it work.
“If I’m in Baltimore I won’t be sad. Trust me, I love it here. But if not, I’ll still love the city and it’ll be, I think, exciting and fun to play for a new organization and figure out what other teams are like out there.”
The Ravens have both Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, whom the Jaguars tagged before sending him to the Vikings (who then dealt him to Baltimore), set to be free agents. While the Ravens have let a few higher-end pass rushers walk in recent years, they do not have much under contract at outside linebacker. Pernell McPhee and Tyus Bowser are free agents-to-be as well.
Judon has been connected to wanting a deal that pays north of $20MM annually. With his franchise tag set to come in slightly north of $20MM, that number makes sense. However, the cap is expected to decline from $198MM to around $180MM. That will make using tags far more difficult. Judon joins fellow 2020 tag recipients Ngakoue, Shaquil Barrett and Bud Dupree as edge rushers set to hit the market. That list also includes Leonard Floyd, Carl Lawson, Trey Hendrickson and Haason Reddick.
A former fifth-round pick, Judon has made back-to-back Pro Bowls. His sack and quarterback hit numbers dropped in 2020, finishing at six and 21, respectively, after he set career-high marks in 2019 (9.5, 33). Judon, however, missed two games after contracting COVID-19. Should the Ravens allow Judon to hit the market, he will have plenty of suitors.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.