Matt Judon didn’t have a great start to the season. He’s been one of the best players on the Baltimore Ravens during their nine game win streak. He’s getting paid this offseason and it better be by Baltimore:
Early in the season pass rush was a real concern for the Baltimore Ravens and Matt Judon didn’t seem to be the difference maker they needed him to be. Heading into week 14 Judon has tallied 8.5 sacks. He has forced a fumble in three of the past four weeks and he is leading the charge at the outside linebacker position.
While the Ravens did have a right to be tentative about investing in Judon, there should be no doubt that they have to pay him this offseason. Judon has proven himself. When the Ravens lost Pernell McPhee due to injury, many analysts thought the Ravens had to make a move to get an outside linebacker. The Ravens instead got a cornerback, and Judon has quieted a lot of the doubters.
The reason that Judon is so impressive right now is that he is doing this with less help than he had a year ago. The Ravens have replaced Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith with Jaylon Ferguson and Tyus Bowser. Judon isn’t doing it alone, but he’s easily the focus of each opponent’s pass protection.
The Ravens have 33 sacks this season. By the season’s end, Judon should be the only player for the defense with double digit sacks. Judon is going to be extremely attractive to competitive teams that are one or two pieces away from winning a Super Bowl. If Judon can do this on this defense, just imagine what he can do on a team that has more help in the pass rush department.
It is inevitable that Judon will get a flashy second contract. Za’Darius Smith got a big deal from the Green Bay Packers and Judon’s deal should easily surpass that. Recent history has shown that pass rushers are what general managers like to spend money on when it comes to the defense. The limited good options at the position work in Judon’s favor.
Von Miller is a free agent in 2020, and he will set the market. After Shaquil Barrett and maybe Bud Dupree, Judon is the most prolific outside linebacker in the free agent frenzy. If the Ravens can’t get a deal done with Judon they either have to put an expensive franchise tag on him or hope they can win a bidding war.
The Ravens can’t lose Judon. At a certain point, the Ravens have to pay the pass rushers they actually hit on in the draft. They developed Judon. They built him up into one of the better players at one of the most important positions. Letting good pass rushers get paid elsewhere has hurt the Ravens and it was compounded by having to wait on Bowser and completely missing on Tim Williams.
The Ravens will have the money to get a deal done with Judon this offseason. Going into this season we were waiting to see if Judon was really going to earn a big second contract from Baltimore. He had to make the Ravens have no choice. That’s exactly what he’s done. His performance and the situation at outside linebacker dictates that the Ravens re-sign him after this season.