The Ravens are in ongoing contract discussions with Matthew Judon, but the possibility of using the franchise tag on Judon remains an option.
Judon is poised to become a free agent next month, but General Manager Eric DeCosta said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine that the Ravens still hope to sign their leading pass-rusher to a long-term deal. The 28-year-old outside linebacker is coming of his best season, leading the team with 9 ½ sacks and 4 forced fumbles.
"Tremendous respect for Matt, the year that he had this year, his leadership, his production, effort, what he brings to the team," DeCosta said. "Conversations with his agent, they're ongoing. We'll continue to see how far that progresses.
"As far as the franchise tag goes, that's something that's under consideration that's definitely on the table. We have some time to go before we make that decision. We'll have to see how it all transpires over the next few weeks."
If the Ravens place the franchise tag on Judon, he would be under contract for one more season at an average salary of the top five highest-paid players at his position. That would allow the Ravens to keep Judon, while giving them more time to work out a long-term deal. The NFL and NFLPA recently agreed to delay the start of the franchise tag designation period from Feb 25. to Feb. 27, and the franchise tag period will end March 12.
The Ravens lost two of their leading pass rushers during free agency last year – Za'Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs. Baltimore had the NFL's fourth-ranked defense in 2019, but the Ravens finished 21st in the league in sacks (37). They hope to fortify their pass rush this offseason, but losing Judon in free agency would make that more difficult to accomplish.
"We've got to use every mechanism we can to build the best team we can," DeCosta said. "There's a lot of different ways to do that. The franchise (tag) is a tool. In the past we've used it, at times with success. If that's what we have to do, then we'll probably have to do it. But there's other options as well on the table, long-term deal being something that we would love to get accomplished. We'll have to see how it all kind of works out."