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Late for Work: How Justin Madubuike's Franchise Tag Is Similar to Lamar Jackson's 

From left: DT Justin Madubuike, QB Lamar Jackson
From left: DT Justin Madubuike, QB Lamar Jackson

How Justin Madubuike's Franchise Tag Situation Is Similar to Lamar Jackson's Last Year

With the Ravens officially placing the franchise tag on defensive tackle Justin Madubuike yesterday, the question now is whether a long-term deal can be finalized by July 15.

If no agreement is reached by then, Madubuike will play under the one-year franchise tag terms. The franchise tag will cost the Ravens $22.1 million against the salary cap.

The Ravens were in the same place with Lamar Jackson last year, and The Baltimore Banner's Paul Mancano and Jonas Shaffer believe the situation with Madubuike will be resolved in similar fashion. Specifically, the team will let the market dictate the framework of a proposed deal.

Last April, 10 days after quarterback Jalen Hurts agreed to a five-year, $255 million extension ($179.3 million guaranteed), Jackson and the Ravens agreed on a five-year, $260 million extension ($185 million guaranteed).

"It's a similar situation where you just need an example of what somebody in the same ilk can fetch," Mancano said on “The Banner Ravens Podcast.”

Five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs is the top defensive lineman set to hit free agency, but Shaffer believes the analog for Madubuike is Christian Wilkins, a 2019 first-round pick who will hit the open market after the Miami Dolphins decided not to place the franchise tag on him.

Pro Football Focus projects Wilkins' contract to be $25 million per year. Spotrac puts it at $20.2 million.

"[Wilkins] has more pedigree than Madubuike in terms of where he went in the draft a few years back, but he is probably right at that Madubuike level in terms of what he would fetch on the open market," Shaffer said. "And that's the job of Justin Madubuike's agent, to judge without having your guy actually go to a free and open market, saying that this is what he would've gotten, and now that he has someone to point to in Christian Wilkins, who is going to be a free agent and is going to command a lot of money."

Jamison Hensley Predicts Whether Free Agents Jadeveon Clowney, Patrick Queen, and Geno Stone Will Return

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley looked at some of the key Ravens players set to hit free agency next week and predicted whether they will re-sign with Baltimore or play elsewhere next season.

Here's a look at three of them:

Projected to stay:

DE Jadeveon Clowney

"The former No. 1 overall pick is in line for a raise from last year's one year, $2.5 million deal after tying a career-high 9.5 sacks and playing in every game for the second time of his 10-year career. The Ravens, who need a proven pass-rusher to pair with Odafe Oweh, should have the edge over other teams because he was such a great fit in their defense and locker room. According to Coach John Harbaugh, Clowney's agent told him at the NFL combine that this was the first time that Clowney had ended a season happy."

Projected to leave:

LB Patrick Queen

"His departure has been expected since 2022, when Baltimore traded for middle linebacker Roquan Smith and signed him to a five-year, $100 million deal. It seemed unlikely the Ravens were going to invest heavily in another inside linebacker, especially after drafting Queen's potential replacement in Trenton Simpson in the third round last year. Queen will be among one of the top defensive free agents this offseason, and he could reunite with former Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald, who is the new head coach with the Seattle Seahawks."

FS Geno Stone

"This is a situation where Stone will likely leave as much for opportunity as money. He made the most of his snaps last season, finishing with seven interceptions. But Stone knows the Ravens are set at safety with Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams, and he won't crack the starting lineup unless they are injured again."

Hypothetical Trade Scenario Has Ravens Acquiring Cowboys WR Brandin Cooks

There has been speculation that the Dallas Cowboys would consider trading wide receiver Brandin Cooks in a cap-saving move. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox came up with three hypothetical trade proposals for the veteran, one of which involved the Ravens.

Knox's scenario has the Ravens acquiring Cooks and a seventh-round pick (242nd overall) in exchange for a 2024 fifth-round pick and 2024 seventh-round pick (226th overall).

"Baltimore could look to move on from Odell Beckham Jr.," Knox wrote. "The 31-year-old will be a free agent next week, and he saw a reduced role in the offense late in the season. Cooks would be a logical replacement for Beckham in Baltimore's lineup, given their similar skill set. His relatively reasonable salary could also benefit the Ravens."

Cooks, 30, has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards six times in his 10-year career. He's coming off one of the least productive seasons of his career, but still posted solid numbers (54 catches, 657 yards, eight touchdowns) as the Cowboys' No. 2 wide receiver.

Quick Hits

PFF continues to count down the NFL's top 101 players. Smith is No. 67 and Madubuike is No. 53.

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