Late for Work 1/27: Could the Ravens Tag and Trade Matthew Judon?

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Could the Ravens Tag and Trade Matthew Judon?

One of the Ravens' biggest questions heading into the offseason centers around the future of Matthew Judon. He's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent once the new league year begins but is a candidate to play in Baltimore under the franchise tag next season.

Even if that's the route the Ravens go, there are no guarantees Judon suits up in purple and black. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Judon could draw interest from "a contending team" this offseason.

"Other teams have noticed the impacts that Dee Ford and Frank Clark have had in San Francisco and Kansas City, respectively, and a contending team could try to pry Judon loose from the Ravens," Schefter wrote. "Judon is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason, and the Ravens would like to bring him back, but they also are likely to listen if another team expresses interest in trading for him, according to sources."

The franchise tag would serve as a one-year deal if Judon and the Ravens weren't able to agree to a long-term contract. The possibility of a tag-and-trade sparks some interesting conversation.

"Last year might have created the template for such deals," Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt wrote.

"NFL teams have proven they're willing to pay handsomely for pass rushers in trades; the 49ers dealt a second-round draft pick to the Chiefs for Ford, who then signed a five-year deal worth up to $87.5 million this past March," Schefter wrote. "The Chiefs then traded first- and third-round picks in 2019 plus a second-round pick in 2020 to the Seahawks last April for a third-round pick in 2019 and Clark, who signed a five-year, $105.5 million deal with $63.5 million guaranteed."

As the NFL continues to trend towards a heavy passing league, teams are searching for quality pass rushers. It's one of the Ravens' top needs this offseason.

So why would they tag-and-trade their top pass rusher? 

"That would make losing him a blow for the team's front seven, though it might be logical if the right offer comes along," Bleacher Report's Timothy Rapp wrote.

"This move would also open up the possibility for Baltimore to sign a high-profile pass rusher like Yannick Ngakoue or Jadeveon Clowney," Ebony Bird's Richard Bradshaw wrote. "While it seems like moving one good edge rusher only to get another may not make a ton of sense, the 49ers, Chiefs, and Seahawks made moves for edge rushers this offseason via trade. All three made the playoffs and the first two teams are playing in Super Bowl LIV."

Judon would cost the Ravens around $16.2 million in cap space playing under the franchise tag in 2020, according to OverTheCap.

Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland said that a tag-and-trade wouldn't leave Baltimore with any dead money because the tender would be traded to the team acquiring Judon, but it couldn't happen until he signs it.

PFF: Ronnie Stanley Was the Best Pass Blocker in 2019

Coming off an All-Pro season, you'd be hard-pressed to find many offensive linemen who played as well as Ronnie Stanley. When it came to pass protection, there wasn't any better.

Stanley was named Pro Football Focus' best pass blocker in 2019.

"Stanley has been a vital part of the Ravens offense and has always been a solid pass-blocker, but this season he stepped his game up to a new level and has been performing at a historically impressive level," PFF's Sam Monson wrote. 

According to PFF, Stanley surrendered six total pressures in 16 games. He was flagged only five times and recorded a 98.7 percent win rate in pass protection.

"In terms of pressure percentage, Stanley was in another world to any other tackle in the game," Monson wrote. "... Stanley's PFF pass-blocking grade of 93.7 isn't just the best mark for tackles this season, it's one of the best grades we've ever given to a tackle."

Despite questions that Lamar Jackson's mobility helped the Ravens offensive line avoid sacks, Monson said "there is no subset of data and situations you can pull up in PFF's database that makes Stanley's numbers anything other than spectacular."

"The Ravens have a genuine superstar in Jackson, but they have also found themselves the best pass blocker in football to protect his blindside," Monson wrote.

McFarland tabbed Stanley as a prime candidate to receive an extension this offseason.

"Stanley is presently slated to earn the fifth-year option salary of $12.866 million," McFarland wrote. "A contract extension for Stanley would normally reduce [his] cap number, but this year, because it is the last year of the present Collective Bargaining Agreement, an extension would likely not create much in the way of cap space and may perhaps even cost the Ravens an extra million or two."

Don't Overreact to Lamar Jackson's Skill Challenge Struggles

It seems we can't even go more than a week without talking about Jackson's passing. This time, it was over his accuracy during the Pro Bowl Precision Passing competition.

Jackson hit two one-point targets during the one-minute time frame. He tried to aim for the farthest targets and acknowledged there were "a lot of bad throws."

Of course, it didn't take long for his struggles to gain traction on social media. It even prompted one fantasy football analyst to go as far as to say he would drop Jackson in his rankings next season.

I'll preface this by saying it's naive to judge a quarterback's accuracy based on one competition. If that's the case, then we need to talk about some of the other top quarterbacks.

But recency bias is a critic's best friend, and it's easy to forget the improvements Jackson made this season.

He may not be the king of carnival games, but I'm sure the Ravens are comfortable with their soon-to-be MVP. Plus, he bounced back in the "Thread the Needle" event a little later in the day, tying Houston's Deshaun Watson.

Oh, and Jackson completed 16 of 23 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception, to be named the Pro Bowl game's Offensive MVP.

Mel Kiper Mocks LSU Linebacker to Ravens

Last week, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah mocked Oklahoma inside linebacker Kenneth Murray to the Ravens at Pick No. 28. Now, another draft analyst with Baltimore ties is predicting the Ravens will address the position in the first round.

In his Mock Draft 1.0, ESPN's Mel Kiper has the Ravens selecting LSU linebacker Patrick Queen.

All of the attention was on quarterback Joe Burrow during the Tigers' National Championship run, but Queen was part of a strong LSU defense. The junior linebacker totaled 85 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, and three sacks.

"Did the Ravens ever really replace C.J. Mosley? Not really, though that defense didn't have many weaknesses for the last few months of the season," Kiper wrote. "Journeyman Josh Bynes took the reins, but he's a free agent, and Eric DeCosta could upgrade with Queen, a fast, athletic, run-and-hit middle linebacker who is rising up boards because of his play down the stretch of LSU's title run. He was tremendous in the two College Football Playoff games, picking up four tackles for loss and 16 total tackles. This is a great fit. Baltimore also could address another spot in the front seven."

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