The biggest swing Ravens could take at defensive end in free agency

The Ravens need to overpay for one of their own.

Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens
Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens / Todd Olszewski/GettyImages

The Baltimore Ravens accomplished the main goal of the 2024 offseason, signing Justin Madubuike to a four-year contract worth $98 million. While this may sound like a hefty contract after his breakout season, Madubuike's deal actually gives the Ravens a good deal of flexibility heading into the 2024 free agent frenzy.

Madubuike's contract is spread out enough to where Baltimore only has a $11 million cap hit in 2024, with the $22 million burden the franchise tag placed on him being erased. This gives the Ravens even more cap space to retain many of their big free agents, including standout defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Clowney recorded 9.5 sacks last year, which is production that would not have looked out of place during his Pro Bowl years with the Houston Texans. The Ravens have wanted to bring him back, and now they have an avenue to beef up a defensive line that is lacking in depth from top to bottom.

Thanks to Madubuike pushing most of his guaranteed money to the last two years of his contract Baltimore has more money available to sign free agents like Clowney. Even with Mike Macdonald in Seattle, the Ravens should feel good about the former No. 1 pick replicating his production.

While giving Clowney a multi-year deal fresh off his best season in three years might seem like a risk Baltimore might not be willing to take, the Ravens must come out guns blazing if they want to land a player of his caliber and maintain their high-end pressure rate from the 2024 season.

The Baltimore Ravens must overpay to keep Jadeveon Clowney

Assuming that Patrick Queen and Geno Stone both leave for greener pastures, the Ravens will need to allocate the money that would have gone to those two somewhere. With the defensive end depth chart looking quite thin, Clowney's familiarity could be a real asset for them.

With Clowney, Kyle Van Noy, and Brent Urban all hitting the open market, the Ravens could find it difficult to replenish their depth and maintain a level of excellence when it comes to pressuring the quarterback. Even if the Ravens overpay a bit to keep Clowney, his age will likely prevent him from getting the to-line deals that could hurt this team.

Clowney still has an obscene amount of raw athletic talent that will help him become a valuable pass rusher in his 30s, and the Ravens would be better off handing him a multi-year deal than trying out a rookie in the same spot.