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5 Takeaways From Justin Madubuike's Contract Extension

DT Justin Madubuike
DT Justin Madubuike

Justin Madubuike agreed to a blockbuster four-year, reported $98 million deal Friday evening, keeping the Pro Bowl defensive tackle in Baltimore as he enters his prime.

Here are five takeaways on Madubuike and the deal:

The Ravens secured a rare talent.

Madubuike is just 26 years old, but he's already in elite company when it comes to his pass rush production. His 13 sacks last season, which were the most of any defensive tackle in the league, vaulted him into rare air.

Over his first four NFL seasons, Madubuike's 21.5 sacks ranks as the ninth most by an interior defensive lineman this century, per TruMedia.

In his first four NFL seasons, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald had a whopping 39 sacks but never had a single season with more than 11. Donald exploded with 20.5 sacks in his fifth year.

The Kansas City Chiefs' Chris Jones, who had 33 sacks in his first four seasons, has posted even more in the following four seasons. Even he has never matched the number of quarterback hits (33) that Madubuike posted last year.

The Ravens are betting that Madubuike's best is yet to come.

The Ravens could have retained Madubuike on the franchise tag and revisited a long-term deal next offseason if the young defensive lineman put together a second straight stellar season.

Instead, they are confident in Madubuike's trajectory. He's at least doubled his sack production each of the past three seasons, and it goes beyond that. His pressure rate went from 5.1% to 6.5% to 13.1% over that span, per Next Gen Stats. Even his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage improved each year.

The arrow is firmly pointing up for Madubuike, and the Ravens are confident it will remain that direction while hoping it spikes as high as the aforementioned Donald and Jones.

The Ravens defense has long-term security at all three levels.

Baltimore's defense will lose some free agents this offseason, but Pro Bowl pillars will remain at all three levels with Madubuike on the defensive line, Roquan Smith at linebacker, and Kyle Hamilton at safety.

The middle of Baltimore's defense is strong, and it's going to be strong for a long time. All three of those players are now under contract through the 2027 season if the Ravens pick up Hamilton's fifth-year option.

Madubuike's deal frees up about $10 million in salary-cap space now.

If Madubuike had played under the franchise tag, it would have cost the Ravens $22.1 million against the salary cap this year.

By agreeing to a long-term deal three days before free agency begins, the Ravens cleared a reported nearly $10 million in space. Pro Football Talk reported the full details of the contract.

The Ravens still have to make some moves (restructures or cuts) to create salary-cap space, but they aren't forced into as many.

Baltimore can now pick and choose depending on how aggressive it wants to be either on the open market, perhaps to make upgrades at running back or on the offensive line, or in bringing back more of their own free agents.

The Ravens again made good on keeping their own stars.

Last offseason, the Ravens gave Lamar Jackson a contract that, at the time, made him the highest-paid player in the league with an annual average of $52 million.

Madubuike's reported $98 million deal is now the highest in total money for a defensive lineman, surpassing the New York Jets' Quinnen Williams ($96 million).

Madubuike's average is still well behind Donald's nearly $32 million and also comes in one spot behind Donald in guaranteed money, but far ahead of everyone else.

The Ravens and Madubuike could have waited to see what kind of deals other top defensive tackle free agents Jones and Christian Wilkins signed to provide a road map. Instead, Baltimore got out ahead of the market.

When he became general manager in 2019, Eric DeCosta said keeping the team's homegrown stars in Baltimore was a top priority. When you draft so well (that 2020 draft class is looking mighty strong) you can't keep everyone (perhaps including Patrick Queen), but DeCosta has kept his promise once again with Madubuike's signing.

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