Long mentioned as a candidate for the Ravens’ franchise tag, Matt Judon will not have the opportunity to test free agency. The Ravens will use their top tag on their top edge rusher, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. The Ravens made the designation official.
The interesting chapter will follow. The Ravens were linked to a Judon tag-and-trade scenario early in the offseason, and the team has a fairly extensive history of letting outside rushers leave. If Baltimore dangles Judon in trades, widespread interest will likely follow.
Judon will be tagged as an outside linebacker, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). While he is essentially a defensive end, 3-4 teams have used the linebacker tag in the recent past to save money. This could prompt a challenge from Judon, who will be on an approximately $15.8MM tender instead of a defensive end price ($17.8MM). Multiple pass rushers are prepared to dispute linebacker tags this year, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
“I’d rather have a long-term deal for stability. It is what it is,” Judon said, via Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). “I feel like this is what many of us go through that are facing free agency. At the end of the day, I know I’m playing football next season.”
The all-time compensatory pick kings, the Ravens have let Paul Kruger, Pernell McPhee and Za’Darius Smith sign their second contracts elsewhere. Judon, however, has been a key weapon for the Ravens for years. And the team no longer has Terrell Suggs anchoring one side of its edge rush, complicating the prospect of Judon being the latest Baltimore edge to leave. A Judon exit, though, would net Baltimore far more than a comp pick.
A Division II product out of Grand Valley State (Mich.), Judon became vital for the Ravens’ Super Bowl push last season. After Suggs and Smith exited in free agency, Judon posted a team-record (since the stat surfaced in 2006) 33 quarterback hits in a 9.5-sack season. Judon, 27, now has 24.5 sacks over the past three seasons.
Three teams used the tag-and-trade route to recoup value for their pass rushers last year, with Dee Ford, Frank Clark and Jadeveon Clowney being dealt. The Jets are interested in Judon, who doubles as one of a few tag-and-trade pass rushers this year. Yannick Ngakoue and Bud Dupree join him. It will be costly for a team to acquire Judon, but we will surely hear more about this market soon.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.