Ravens franchise tagging Justin Madubuike will keep defense elite in 2024

Madubuike is back in Baltimore.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The Baltimore Ravens entered the 2024 NFL offseason with their three top sack producers in Jadeveon Clowney, Kyle Van Noy, and Justin Madubuike all scheduled to hit free agency, with the former Texas A&M product the player Baltimore needed to retain above all else.

Eric DeCosta wasn't even going to entertain the thought of a bidding way for his services, saying outright that Madubuike would be hit with the franchise tag if the Ravens were unable to get a long-term deal done with him. DeCosta made good on his promise by securing a key component of what is still a talented defense.

The Ravens tagged Madubuike after a season that earned him second-team All-Pro honors in 2023. Madubuike will make $22.1 million next season while he and the team keep discussing a long-term contract. With their defensive stalwart back in the fold, Baltimore once again has All-Pros at every level of the defense.

Baltimore Ravens franchise tag DT Justin Madubuike

Madubuike recorded 13 sacks last season, tying an NFL record by recording at least one half-sack in 11 consecutive games. Not too bad for a player who had just 8.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hist in his first three NFL seasons before setting the world on fire in his contract year.

Madubuike is a tough long-term projection. He isn't an amazing run-stuffer and only has one year of truly elite production at the defensive tackle spot, but his 2023 campaign both established him as one of the best pass-rushing defensive linemen in the game and helped the Ravens' defense become one of the most complete units in the game.

Madubuike will now have the fourth-highest 2024 cap hit of any defensive tackle in the league. Only Los Angeles' Aaron Donald, Green Bay's Kenny Clark, and Indianapolis' DeForest Buckner exceed him in this area. It appears as though Baltimore wants to milk one more year of elite production out of him before signing him long-term.

Madubuike played as big a role as anyone in helping Mike Macdonald create a truly relentless defense, and all signs point to him continuing that level of production under Zach Orr. Madubuike needed to be retained for 2024, and it looks like Baltimore did just that with the tag.