Two of the Ravens’ Pro Bowl defenders, defensive lineman Justin Madubuike and inside linebacker Patrick Queen, are due to hit free agency next month. As Baltimore appears likely to put the franchise tag on Madubuike, there may not be enough cap room to give Queen the type of contract he would command on the open market, and GM Eric DeCosta recently suggested that Queen would get the chance to see what the market has in store for him.
“Patrick had an amazing season,” DeCosta said at his end-of-season presser, via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (subscription required). “I love Patrick. He’s one of my favorite guys on the team. He’s put himself in a great position, potentially, to hit the market and see what his value is. You never know.”
The Ravens selected Queen in the first round of the 2020 draft. While the LSU product flashed at times during his first several years in the league, he did not truly break out until Baltimore acquired fellow inside ‘backer Roquan Smith at the 2022 trade deadline. With the elite Smith as a running mate, Queen finally began living up to his draft status and excelled down the stretch of the 2022 campaign. Baltimore nonetheless declined the fifth-year option on Queen’s rookie deal, and extension talks between player and team failed to produce an agreement, which led to some frustration on Queen’s part and which turned 2023 into a platform year.
Although Queen was named a trade candidate in the run-up to last year’s draft and over the summer, the Ravens elected to let him finish out his rookie contract, to the benefit of both parties. In 17 games (all starts) in 2023, Queen set a career-high with 133 tackles and graded out as the 23rd-best linebacker in the league (eight spots behind Smith) per Pro Football Focus. In the process, he earned the first Pro Bowl bid of his career and set himself up nicely for a lucrative contract in his first foray into free agency.
Given that the Ravens committed a five-year, $100MM contract to Smith last January, it was always unlikely that they would authorize a contract for Queen commensurate with his market value (which Spotrac estimates is $18.5MM/year). That is especially true given the franchise’s penchant for drafting and developing quality ILB talent, and 2023 third-rounder Trenton Simpson is in line to take over Queen’s role should the latter find a new employer in 2024.
DeCosta obviously did not rule out a reunion with Queen, but unless his market does not develop as expected, the 24-year-old may have played his last snap for the Ravens.