Why Matt Judon is actually underrated heading into free agency
Matt Judon is an underrated player for the Baltimore Ravens heading towards either a franchise tag, a new long term deal or unrestricted free agency. Here is why he’s underrated:
When it comes to free agents, especially Matt Judon, Eric DeCosta has to have a good evaluation of his value. The fate of Judon is one of the hardest decisions facing DeCosta. Here is a good player, coming off a good season, who should make great money with his second contract. That seems to be the thing here. Judon is good, but the Ravens don’t want to get caught overpaying him. They are in a situation where they may be forced to pay a good player like a great one (which is the main problem with free agency in general).
What if Judon is closer to the great column than he is perceived? In the last five years he’s had 9.5, seven and eight sacks respectively. Judon hasn’t had a monster year, yet he’s always been productive.
Terrell Suggs has played 16 (Not counting 2015 when he was basically out for the year) seasons in the NFL and only had seven seasons with double digit sacks. Suggs had double digit sacks in his first two seasons but from 2005-2009 the highest total he got was nine and a half.
Judon is putting up production that is similar to Suggs in that stretch. Judon’s best football could very well be in front of him. Look at Za’Darius Smith. Smith just had 13.5 sacks with the Packers shattering his career high of 8.5. Nobody was worried about Terrell Suggs being overpaid when he put up 65 tackles and 9.5 sacks in 2006. Nobody should be worried about Judon getting paid after his 2019 season of 54 tackles and 9.5 sacks.
The point isn’t that Judon is on par with Suggs. Suggs was consistently one of the best outside linebackers in the game and from 2010-2014 alone he put up 60 sacks. The argument is however that Judon can be the one next in line at outside linebacker. He can fill the void left by Suggs.
If the Ravens play their cards right, Judon will be remembered as another great longtime Raven at outside linebacker. He may never get to the level of Suggs or Boulware, however he will be consistently solid. Plus, you don’t know that Judon won’t have years of dominant production. He has the tools to get the job done. Now the Ravens have to invest in him, and invest in the pass rush department in general. They need more than just Tyus Bowser and a young Jaylon Ferguson.
Judon didn’t have a ton of help at the outside linebacker position and the Ravens struggled to find pass rush from their defensive line. Judon was also charged with dropping into coverage or blitzing lined up as an inside linebacker. He wasn’t just going after the quarterback from the edge and he was by far the best weapon the Ravens had from a pass rushing perspective. If you put another strong force opposite of him, his numbers would go up into the elite area.
Judon is a leader on a very cohesive defense. The Ravens found out the hard way that saying goodbye to leaders wasn’t easy. The defense got off to a slow start this year without C.J. Mosley and Eric Weddle. The chemistry of this team was important and Judon’s antics helped the team come together.
The take home point is that simply looking at Judon’s statistics is a good way to undervalue him. With context and a fair evaluation of his game, he’s a valuable player.