The AFC North had some key decisions to make this offseason pertaining to some veteran pass rushers—or at least the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens did. The Steelers chose to place the franchise tag on Bud Dupree. The Ravens made the same decision with Matt Judon, who was their best edge rusher after watching Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith leave in free agency.
Neither signed right away—it’s rare to see that happen—but Dupree signed his just before the start of the 2020 NFL Draft. Judon signed his deal last week, and that was following negotiations. Franchise tag negotiations, you say? Yes, it’s rare, but it does happen sometimes.
The two sides debated whether he was an outside linebacker or a defensive end, each of which are assigned different values as compensation for their franchise tag cost. They agreed to split the difference and meet in the middle, with Judon ultimately signing a tender worth $16.808 million, the middle ground between the price for an outside linebacker and a defensive end.
The Ravens’ defense is more scheme-diverse than is the Steelers. I don’t know that Dupree would have had much of a case if he tried to pose a similar argument that he was really more of a defensive end than a linebacker, given his role in ‘base’ defenses.
Earlier in the offseason, it had been rumored that Judon could potentially be a candidate to be traded, but at this point, it doesn’t seem to be particularly likely, even though it is now technically possible since he signed the tag. And given the current circumstances, nobody is going to be rushing to make personnel moves.
In 2019, his first season as a full-time starter, he posted a career-high nine and a half sacks, a total that was not really indicative of the amount of success that he actually had as a pass rusher. He also registered 33 quarterback hits, which I believe led the league.
Aside from his success rushing the quarterback, he also recorded 54 tackles, 14 of which went for a loss of yardage, and he also forced four fumbles, though he did not record any takeaways, nor did he have much of a role in coverage.
While the Ravens have one of the most talented defensive backfields in the NFL, they have tried to boost their front seven this offseason, trading for Calais Campbell and then using their first-round pick on inside linebacker Patrick Queen. They are hoping that their defense will match their offense in 2020.