Today it became official that the Baltimore Ravens would use their franchise tag on outside linebacker, Matt Judon. We all knew this is coming, but what will come out of it?
It became official today that Matt Judon would get the franchise tag. What comes next is what is interesting. The Ravens have a long history of signing their franchise tagged player to a long-term contract yet just about anything seems to be on the table at the moment.
What we know now is that unless the Ravens trade Judon, he will be playing for the purple and black in 2020. This is the first major move of the offseason and it’s a big one, even if we knew it was coming.
With the franchise tag, Judon becomes the biggest cap hit for the franchise in 2020. According to Spotrac.com Judon will make $16 million in the 2020 season, which is almost eight percent of the Ravens salary cap. The three biggest cap hits behind Judon are Marcus Peters, Earl Thomas and Brandon Williams who make up over seven percent of the cap.
This illustrates why the franchise tag isn’t the Ravens preferred method of keeping players. It is one season at a hefty price. There is a reason why the Ravens have only applied their franchise tag nine times (The tweet by ESPN’s Jamison Hensley below, gives the Ravens’ franchise tag timeline) This is the first franchise tag applied by the Ravens since they tagged Justin Tucker in 2016 before agreeing to a new contract.
With Judon, the Ravens didn’t have a choice. The outside linebacker position is one of the thinnest positions on the entire roster and Judun is easily the best outside linebacker Baltimore has. The free agency market has some big names on it and none of them are going to be easy to get. It would have been a bad situation if Judon left to another team and the Ravens missed out on top talent in free agency.
The franchise tag gives Eric DeCosta options. The tag and trade remains a possibility. This way if Judon plays for another team next year, the Ravens will get something out of it. It seems more than likely that Judon is going to be with the Ravens in 2020. Judon is a classic example of a player who is valued by the team more than he is valued by the fans.
Judon was a staple of what Don Martindale wanted to do defensively. He was almost always on the field and he was used as a versatile answer to multiple front seven needs. Judon is the most complete football player in the front seven. Nobody on the defensive line or on the second level of the defense brings as much to the table as Judon. He’s a pass rusher, and an edge setting run stopper that can line up in multiple positions. Judon is underrated, but I’ve already made that argument.
The Ravens value their own players and the decision makers in Baltimore probably see Judon as the leader for the front seven. He’s the new Terrell Suggs. It’s his turn to be the guy. The plan could be to get a deal done with Judon to keep him around. The Ravens will most likely look to add the complimentary player or two for the pass rush that they need.
The Ravens were always going to tag Judon. Now we can stop waiting for it. That’s what happened today. The rest we’ll just have to wait for.