The great thing about having quality pass-rushers is that, well, they’re good for the team, and serve one of the most important roles on the field. The bad thing? You have to pay them eventually, and that’s what the AFC North is figuring out over the course of the past couple of offseasons.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for a huge, possibly record-setting contract extension for T.J. Watt, and trying to figure out what if anything they can do as far as Bud Dupree goes after he played the 2020 season under the franchise tag, the Baltimore Ravens are in a similar spot for their top pass rusher.
That would be Matthew Judon, who like Dupree, played last season under the tag, and he has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons—even without the huge sack numbers. He only had six in 2020, in fact, but also with 21 quarterback hits, and a safety.
Baltimore as a team only had 39 sacks in total, and Judon led the way. Calais Campbell finished second on the team with four sacks, while Pernell McPhee, Jihad Ward, and Patrick Queen all shared the third spot with three sacks.
Obviously, they want to figure out a way to pay Judon, who is clearly their best pass rusher, though of course they are expecting a lot out of Yannick Ngakoue as well, whom they acquired via trade mid-season—and who will also be a free agent. Chances are, the Ravens might be able to swing one, but not both. Judon discussed his situation recently on CBS Sports:
“I’d love to be back in Baltimore. I haven’t been nowhere else, so I’d love to be back in Baltimore”, he said. “Just—it’s got to line up. It’s got to be perfect, and we’ve got to make it work. So if I’m in Baltimore, I won’t be sad. Trust me, I love it here, I’ve got a really nice home. But if not, I’ll still love the city. I think it’ll be exciting and fun to play for a new organization and figure out what other teams are like out there”.
As a team, you probably don’t love to hear one of your principle free agents talk about how ‘exciting and fun’ it would be to play for another team, but of course that’s all part of the bargaining process. The Ravens have a much bigger card to play in negotiations. They simply have to say, look, you turn this down, we give it to Yannick instead.
“I’d love to be back in Baltimore. Just, it has to line up it has to be perfect we gotta make it work.”
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) February 5, 2021