3 reasons Ravens star Justin Madubuike deserved $98 million payday

Madubuike is worth the big investment made in him.

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages
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The Baltimore Ravens got their offseason started with a bang, agreeing to a long-term contract with star defensive tackle Justin Madubuike. After originally slapping the franchise tag on him, Baltimore eventually worked out a long-term deal that pays him like the high-end pass rusher he was last year.

Madubuike's contract is worth $98 million over four seasons, meaning the only defensive tackle in the league who makes more in yearly salary is future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald. Madubuike's first three years were fairly standard, but he managed to kick it up a notch for a 14-3 Ravens team that went to the AFC Championship game.

Some observers, especially from other fanbases who balk at the money Madubuike earned off one breakout season, were a bit stunned. While it might sound like an outrageous deal at first glance, the Ravens realized their best chance at building a Super Bowl winner is giving Madubuike this big payday.

3 reasons Justin Madubuike deserved Baltimore Ravens' payday

3. Fresh off a career year

Madubuike picked the best time to exceed his combined sack total from the last three seasons. After making his mark as a rotational lineman who can make some stuffs in the run game and mix in occasional pressures, Madubuike turned into someone that offensive coordinators had to focus their entire gameplan on.

Madubuike recorded 13 sacks last year, even setting a record for most consecutive games with at least one-half sack. Contract year bumps may be a real thing, but going from where he was before to putting together one of the finest seasons a defensive tackle has had in the last half-decade signals more legitimate improvement.

Justin Madubuike became elite for the Baltimore Ravens

While he may never be Haloti Ngata as a run defender, Madubuike certainly performs well in that area. The Texas A&M product was a force multiplier who helped the entire defensive line, as Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy each had career years rushing the passer as teams focused in on him.

The Ravens know the value of tremendous defensive linemen, and they have built themselves on the back of developing strong talent in-house and paying them before they hit the open market. Signing Madubuike is right in line with their organizational philosophy, especially since his level of play will change and defense's fortunes.