The Ravens have made one major financial commitment to a member of the linebacking corps, but a second will not be coming. Patrick Queen‘s fifth-year option will not be exercised, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Queen would have been due a 2024 salary of $12.72MM has the Ravens picked up the option. Instead, the 23-year-old will now enter a contract year while facing an uncertain future. Signs pointing to this decision emerged in the middle of the 2022 campaign, and continued during last weekend’s draft.
Baltimore traded for Roquan Smith at the deadline, sending the Bears a package including a second-round pick in exchange. Given that price, many assumed a long-term deal would soon follow, and it did. Smith signed a five-year, $100MM contract in January, making him the highest-paid linebacker in league history. His arrival led to a tangible uptick in Queen’s level of play down the stretch.
The latter finished the 2022 season with 117 tackles, five sacks, a pair of interceptions and six pass deflections. Those stats were reflected in a sizeable jump in PFF rating; the LSU product’s overall grade jumped to 70 last season after checking in at 43.5 the year before. Still, the Smith deal would have made it particularly difficult for the Ravens to absorb another eight-figure cap charge at the position.
Baltimore raised some eyebrows with the selection of linebacker Trenton Simpson in the third round of the draft. Queen himself reacted on social media in a way which hinted he felt the decision hurt his chances of remaining with the team beyond next season. Simpson boasts one of the more unique skillsets in this year’s class, showcasing an ability to play on the inside but also as an edge rusher and even a slot corner at times.
While he thus wouldn’t represent a direct replacement for Queen, Simpson could be viewed as a succession plan to an extent. Even before the draft, the former was mentioned as a potential trade candidate, and it will be worth monitoring if any developments on that front take place given today’s news. Even if there aren’t any, Queen’s next season in Baltimore could be his last.