Matt Judon

Jets Not Interested In Yannick Ngakoue

The Jets’ lack of a top-tier pass rusher has led to many observers connecting the dots between Gang Green and players like Yannick Ngakoue and Jadeveon Clowney this offseason. But we heard earlier this month that the club has no interest in Clowney, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says the Jets feel the same way about Ngakoue.

That jibes with what Cimini reported back in March, but as the Jets have since acquired multiple first-round picks while failing to address their pass-rushing needs, it seemed that there was a possibility that the club could still make a move for Ngakoue, whose disenchantment with the Jaguars has been well-publicized. And, since several Power 5 conferences have pushed their seasons to the spring — while the remaining conferences could still follow suit — New York’s 2021 first-round selections may not be quite as valuable as they normally would be.

Still, Cimini says GM Joe Douglas views his four first-round picks from 2021-22 to be vital to the club’s rebuild, and he would be loathe to part with them. On the other hand, the ESPN scribe says Ravens’ edge defender Matt Judon could pique Douglas’ interest.

Indeed, Douglas, a former Ravens scout, has made a habit of acquiring former Baltimore talent, and Cimini classifies Judon as a better player than Ngakoue — which could be up for debate — who would fit nicely in the Jets’ 3-4 front. Judon and the Ravens did not reach an extension prior to the July 15 deadline, so he will play out the 2020 season on his franchise tag.

But unlike Ngakoue’s animosity towards Jacksonville, Judon harbors no ill-will towards the Ravens. And Baltimore, a championship contender, does not have much by way of proven depth in the pass-rushing department either, so it would be surprising to see the team jettison Judon, even if it could get a first-rounder in return.

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Status Of All 15 Tagged Players Prior to July 15 Extension Deadline

The clock is ticking for tagged players to sign extensions with their teams, per the league calendar.

July 15: At 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2020 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.

With less than nine days remaining until the deadline, let’s take a look at where each of the 15 tagged players stand.

Already Signed Tag

*Received transition tag (vs. franchise tag)

Haven’t Signed Tag, Won’t Hold Out

Haven’t Signed Tag, Threatening Hold Out

Matt Judon Fine Playing On Franchise Tag

Nearly half the league used the franchise tag to keep players off the market this offseason. Ravens outside linebacker Matt Judon was among the players tagged, but does not appear to be embroiled in a contentious negotiation with his team. While the tag often causes conflict, with teams restricting players from hitting the market, Judon is not sweating the designation. 

I’m pleased to be tagged,” Judon said, via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec (subscription required). “I feel like only a few players get to go through this in their lifetime. As much as I want stability in the future, I’m proud of where I’m at and where I came from. … I’m pleased with how my career has been going.”

The 27-year-old defender signed his franchise tender late last month. Unless Judon files a grievance to be tagged as a defensive end, he is set to earn $15.8MM on the tag. The former fifth-round pick may well have commanded more on the market, but Judon seems content with his situation.

The Ravens have gone through some changes at linebacker over the last two years. They let edge defenders Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith walk in free agency last year, when they also did not match the Jets’ offer for C.J. Mosley. This year, Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes left Baltimore via free agency. Judon represents the constant, and the Ravens — once linked to tag-and-trade scenarios involving Judon — are not expected to deal their top edge rusher.

Judon has racked up 24.5 sacks since moving into a starting role in 2017. His 33 QB hits last season ranked fourth and were a Ravens-most since the NFL began tracking this stat in 2006. GM Eric DeCosta confirmed extension talks have begun, but details are scarce about how they’re unfolding thus far. Judon joins Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey as big-ticket Ravens extension candidates — a group Lamar Jackson will headline when he becomes eligible for an extension next year.

We’ve got 30 more days to work out a long-term contract. We’re just going to see how it goes from there,” Judon said. “I can’t speak for the organization, but as far as me, I’m happy to be a Raven. I’ve got my (Ravens) shorts on right now. I want to stay here for as long as I play, but I understand that it’s a business.”

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North Notes: Ravens, Amos, Steelers

Rumors of the Ravens becoming the latest team to execute a tag-and-trade transaction have not surfaced in months, and Matt Judon is not expecting to be dealt. The franchise-tagged outside linebacker signed his tender Thursday night and expects to be with the Ravens this season, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Although the Ravens acquired All-Pro defensive lineman Calais Campbell, they did not make a big move at outside linebacker this offseason. They will need their top 2019 edge defender back to anchor their pass rush.

Here is the latest from the North divisions, continuing first with more news out of Baltimore:

  • John Harbaugh said (via Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun) cornerback Jimmy Smith could see some time at safety. The veteran cornerback re-signed earlier this year and is set to play a 10th season in Baltimore. The Ravens have Earl Thomas and the recently extended Chuck Clark at safety, so it will be interesting to see how they deploy Smith this season.
  • The pectoral injury Adrian Amos battled in the playoffs did not require surgery, and the Packers safety said he is back to 100%, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, on Twitter. Amos played all but four of Green Bay’s defensive snaps during the regular season but was unable to finish the NFC championship game.
  • Two of the league’s most influential decision-makers were against the fourth-and-15 proposal, which the NFL tabled Thursday. Both Steelers owner Art Rooney II and HC Mike Tomlin, the latter a member of the competition committee, came out against the proposal — one that gained steam from last year to the point where ownership was split on it. “We’re open to thinking, ‘Is there something we can do with the kickoff in more of a traditional setting that might allow onside kicks a better chance of happening? But this one was too much of a gimmick,” Rooney said, via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “(Tomlin) and I didn’t like the idea.” Rooney said interest remains in finding an alternative to the current onside kick setup, which has hindered comeback efforts since a recent rule change prevented kicking-team players from running starts prior to the kick.

Ravens’ Matt Judon Signs Franchise Tender

Nearly half the league’s teams used their respective franchise tags this year, and one of the tagged pass rushers signed his tender Thursday.

Matt Judon signed his Ravens tender, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Judon was tagged as a linebacker and therefore would have been attached to a $15.8MM salary, though he could have filed a grievance to be tagged as a defensive end in order to bump that number up to $17.8MM. Pelissero subsequently reported that the two sides met in the middle to avoid further dispute, and that Judon stands to earn $16.8MM in 2020 if no long-term deal is reached (Twitter link).

The Ravens have begun extension discussions with Judon but have also initiated talks with Ronnie Stanley. Judon could come first due to the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions. The former Division II standout has become Baltimore’s top edge defender, having functioned in a key role for the Ravens throughout his career. Judon registered 33 quarterback hits last season — the most by a Raven over the past 14 years — and has 24.5 sacks in the past three years.

Tag-and-trade rumors surfaced in this situation earlier this offseason. By signing the tag, Judon can now be traded. Although the Ravens have let a few key edge rushers go after big contract-year performances in recent years, they did not draft an outside linebacker and would be incredibly thin at the position if they opted to trade him.

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Ravens Discussing Extensions With Matt Judon, Ronnie Stanley

The Ravens have started discussing new deals with edge rusher Matt Judon and left tackle Ronnie Stanley, according to GM Eric DeCosta (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley). A deal with one of those players, or both, would give the Ravens some much needed breathing room against the salary cap for 2020.

[RELATED: Ravens Interested In Clowney?]

The Ravens have until the middle of July to hash out a deal with Judon, who was cuffed via the franchise tag. For now, Judon is set to play out the 2020 season at a rate of $15.8MM since he has been classified as a linebacker. However, as we’ve seen before with DE/LBs, a grievance could be coming. If Judon fights back and wins, he could be in line for roughly $17.8MM this year.

I’d rather have a long-term deal for stability. It is what it is,” Judon said in March (Twitter link via Josina Anderson of ESPN.com). “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.”

Judon has been a key weapon for the Ravens for years. Last year, he took another giant step forward with 9.5 sacks and a total of 33 quarterback hits. The 27-year-old has 24.5 sacks over the past three seasons and lots of leverage as he discusses a new pact with Baltimore.

Stanley also has one year to go, thanks to his fifth-year option. Last year, he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ top pass blocker in the NFL. In 2020, he’s slated to earn $12.8MM.

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Ravens Use Franchise Tag On Matt Judon

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.

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Jets Targeting Pass Rushers

The Jets are seeking some pass-rush help, and they’re eyeing some of the top names on the market. Sources tell Connor Hughes of The Athletic that “the Jets are doing their homework on Jadeveon Clowney” and are among the teams “in on him.” The Jets are also planning to “actively pursue” Rams pass rusher Dante Fowler.

The team could alternatively look to the trade market for help. Hughes writes that the Jets are expected to make a call on Ravens defensive end Matt Judon, who is expected to receive the franchise tag after finishing 2019 with a career-high 9.5 sacks. However, Hughes cautions that the organization may be wary to give up too much draft capital, especially when they’re looking to fill holes via the draft.

Hughes also expects the Jets to be in on a number of offensive lineman, including Joe Thuney and Graham Glasgow. We heard yesterday that the organization was planning on pursuing Redskins lineman Trent Williams. The front office could even pursue cornerback James Bradberry, according to the writer.

The Jets will have a whole lot of money to throw at a pass-rusher, as they’re currently sitting with more than $60MM in projected cap space. Hughes notes that the organization could easily move on from the likes of cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson, lineman Brian Winters, and others, which would open up an additional $20MM to $27MM in cap space.

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AFC East Notes: Jets, OL, Patriots, Kilgore

Add the Jets to the teams in the James Bradberry market. Cornerback resides among the many needs in New York, and the Jets are “very interested” in the Panthers starter, Connor Hughes of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Twenty-two teams have expressed some degree of interest on Bradberry, per Hughes. This includes the Redskins, now run by longtime Panthers coach Ron Rivera. The Giants are interested, but Hughes notes the No. 1 cornerback price tag will likely push them out of the running.

Here is the latest from the AFC East, first moving to other Jets rumors from Indianapolis:

  • A high probability exists the Jets will be the rare team to replace its entire starting offensive line. Week 1’s front five — Kelvin Beachum, Kelechi Osemele, Ryan Kalil, Brian Winters and Brandon Shell — are either unlikely to be back or certainties (in Osemele’s case) not to return, and Hughes notes that the Jets are eyeing four new O-line starters. Alex Lewis, a 2019 trade get who took over after Osemele’s injury, is a free agent but could be the player from last year’s front retained. The Jets are eyeing guards Joe Thuney and Graham Glasgow, per Hughes. While the Jets want to come away with a high-end free agent — they are also in on Jack Conklin — GM Joe Douglas will look to the draft to fill much of the O-line needs, Hughes adds. This points to Gang Green being in the market for this atypically stacked tackle class at No. 11.
  • Thuney is expected to cost at least $14MM, with Jeff Howe of The Athletic adding his bidding could push a guard-high $15MM. The Patriots have seen Nate Solder and Trent Brown sign O-line-record money the past two offseasons; they are not expected to try to keep Thuney. Even Thuney’s backup could have a big market. Ted Karras, a full-time starter only in 2019, may be set to earn command a near-$10MM-AAV deal, per Howe. That would be a good indication of the recently seller-happy O-line market hitting another level.
  • The Jets have also been in the market for edge rushers for years, finishing second in 2018’s Khalil Mack sweepstakes and seeing a player they wanted to turn into an edge defender — Anthony Barr — renege on a deal at the 11th hour. League sources expect Gang Green to target Dante Fowler, Hughes notes. The Rams’ bevy of big contracts will likely limit them from franchise-tagging Fowler. The Jets are also interested in Matt Judon, though the Ravens are likely to tag him. He could be a tag-and-trade option, however.
  • Despite their desperation for edge help, the Jets are not expected to be in the Jadeveon Clowney market. An issue with what some Texans sources described as a “cavalier attitude” made Douglas leery of pursuing a Clowney trade last year and has him looking elsewhere for outside linebacker aid, per Hughes. Clowney’s price tag figures to be immense. The Jets hold $49MM-plus in cap space but have many needs.
  • Optimism exists Devin McCourty will be back in New England on a third contract, Howe adds. McCourty and the Patriots are expected to meet before week’s end. The standout safety has spent all 10 seasons of his career in New England. With Jason McCourty still under contract, Devin returning to the Pats should not exactly surprise.
  • Like the Jets, the Dolphins could have a retooled offensive front. They are looking around for centers to replace Daniel Kilgore, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Kilgore has started 17 games since signing with the Dolphins in 2018. Releasing him in the final year of his contract would save the Dolphins $4MM.

Ravens Expected To Franchise Tag LB Matt Judon

In retweeting a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter indicating that the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to push back the franchise and transition tag windows, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com made a seemingly offhand, but still important, observation. Hensley tweeted that the new window is relevant to the Ravens, who are expected to tag linebacker Matt Judon.

We heard back in December that Baltimore is prepared to hit Judon with the franchise tag if the two sides cannot work out a long-term pact, but then head coach John Harbaugh conceded that it would be difficult to retain the team’s top pass rusher. Shortly thereafter, reports surfaced indicating that the Ravens may explore tag-and-trade scenarios with Judon.

As such, the fact that Baltimore plans to tag the Grand Valley State product is not surprising. The Ravens could look for trade partners for Judon once he’s tagged — the tag-and-trade market for edge rushers was rather robust last season — and they will certainly continue to negotiate their own contract with him.

The problem is that Judon has proven himself to be a good player, but not necessarily a player worthy of a deal that could approach an AAV of $20MM. He can dominate a game but does not do so routinely, and though he earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2019, that largely seemed to be a function of the team’s overall success.

On the other hand, the Ravens need a proven commodity at pass rusher, and beyond Judon, they don’t have one. They have high hopes for 2019 third-rounder Jaylon Ferguson, but the jury is still out on him, and it’s unlikely that any of the league’s other top edge rushers eligible for free agency will actually hit the open market. And Baltimore did let Za’Darius Smith walk in free agency last year because it deemed his price tag too rich, only to see Smith break out for the Packers.

So where Judon will play in 2020 is still an open question, but it sounds as if the franchise tag is all but a done deal. 

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