The Baltimore Ravens have one of the strongest defenses in the NFL. They have a plethora of playmakers spread all across the field, from the frontline to the deepest of positions in the secondary.
One of the units that experienced an extraordinary change for the good was the one featuring new Ravens leader Roquan Smith, acquire mid-season via trade with the Chicago Bears.
Smith was so good last year in nine games spent in Baltimore that all the Ravens could (and did) do was extend his contract to a five-year deal worth $100 million, the largest for a player at his position in football.
In an article written by Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus, the analyst discussed Smith's season as well as touched on all other LBs currently rostered by the Ravens.
Patrick Queen, Smith's second fiddle in the unit, grabbed McGuinness' attention as his future with the team isn't that clear for the PFF analyst. This is what he wrote about the linebacker.
"This past season, and in particular the second half of the year, saw him really start to find his footing. From Week 9 through the playoffs, Queen’s 75.5 PFF grade ranked 15th among all linebackers who played 300 or more snaps in that span. "- Gordon McGuinness, Pro Football Focus
That is correct. As McGuinness pointed out, Queen struggled more than a fair share through his first two seasons as a pro after entering the league ahead of the 2020 season, but last year marked a clear jump in production for the three-year vet now entering the fourth and final year of his rookie deal.
As you might have heard, the Ravens have declined to extend Queen for a final year, thus making him a free agent next summer once the 2023 season is over. His future in Baltimore is, simply put, murky.
"The Ravens declined Queen’s fifth-year option, which makes sense given the resources required to sign Smith long-term and, while it’s unlikely that he will be in Baltimore beyond this season, he has the opportunity to make himself a lot of money with a strong fourth year in the league as he heads for free agency. For 2023, if he keeps up his performance from the second half of 2022, the Ravens will have one of the best linebacker duos in the league."- Gordon McGuinness, Pro Football Focus
That's exactly the feeling McGuinness expressed in his writeup, and the one that probably makes the most sense going forward barring a surprising development or a ridiculously great season by Queen in 2023 that ends up forcing Baltimore's hand into offering him a hefty contract next spring.
As McGuinness wrote, "It is unlikely that [Queen] will be in Baltimore beyond this season." However, that doesn't mean the Ravens cannot make the most of his active deal and his presence on the field.
The pairing of Queen and Smith dominated opposing offenses last season and that shouldn't change entering 2023, and why not past that point if the production is worth paying for to keep both linebackers around, whatever money it takes.