Ordinarily, the Baltimore Ravens are content to just let some of their budding-but-not-foundational players walk in free agency in hopes of reaping the compensatory rewards when they know that realistically they can’t keep said players at their asking price. We have seen this quite a bit particularly among their linebackers and offensive linemen.
With a change in general manager, though, perhaps we may see a bit of a shift in philosophy. One change we saw in 2019 was the extensive number of extensions that were worked on and completed in-season, including one for cornerback Marcus Peters, who was acquired via an in-season trade himself.
One of the biggest names the Ravens are preparing to part with this offseason is Matthew Judon, a four-year veteran edge defender who is coming off his best season and was named to the Pro Bowl this year as an alternate, where he worked with T.J. Watt and Von Miller.
During the 2019 season, Judon racked up nine and a half sacks, but that was in addition to 33 quarterback hits, among the most in the NFL. He registered 54 tackles with 14 for a loss, and he also produced four fumbles. On traditional metrics, his year compares well against Bud Dupree, interestingly enough.
It may well result that both AFC North pass rushers receive the franchise tag this offseason. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Ravens are mulling the tag for Judon with the thought of trading him for draft picks. Chances are he would fetch a salary on the open market that would probably earn no worse than a fourth-round compensatory pick, perhaps even a third.
But if they can trade him now, they can get a draft pick (or even multiple draft picks) for him that they can use in 2020. This has become a pattern lately, with Dee Ford, Frank Clark, and Jadeveon Clowney all traded under the franchise tag last year.
Reportedly, the Ravens would actually like to bring Judon back, but they are also realistic, and if they can tag him and field a quality exchange offer in return for him, this regime is not afraid to listen to what the market is telling them and make that investment.
Baltimore has said through the media that retaining Judon is a priority. After all, outside of him, they really don’t have a ton of guys who have a proven track record for getting after the passer right now. He is certainly the best they’ve got, after losing Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith last offseason.
He’s not going to yield the sort of bounty in trade that the other named pass-rushers received, but pass rushers are always a priority, and if you don’t have one, then you need one, it’s that simple. It would be interesting to see if the Ravens take this approach, and what the offers are that they field.