What a Matthew Judon Tag-and-Trade Could Look Like
Eric DeCosta said last week that using the franchise tag on Matthew Judon is "definitely on the table."
The designation period ends on March 12, and it's looking more like a possibility for both sides.
If the Ravens tag Judon, there are different routes they could go. One is, of course, keep him for the 2020 season. The other that has been commonly suggested is a tag-and-trade.
"Last year it seemed somewhat revolutionary to tag and trade a player," NFL Network's Rapoport said. "I think by this year, considering how many potential tag-and-trade possibilities there are, it will become the norm. There's not a lot of pass rushers, or guys who will affect the quarterback, in free agency."
"Right now, it looks like Yannick Ngakoue, Judon, Shaq Barrett, and Bud Dupree are all getting tagged," Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote. "That leaves Jadeveon Clowney as the top edge-rushing free agent, with guys like Dante Fowler and Markus Golden, and 30-somethings Robert Quinn, Everson Griffen and Jason Pierre-Paul (Quinn isn't 30, but will be before the season starts) as the top options out there. Which, in turn, could create a trade market for Judon, who Baltimore may wind up moving."
Coming off a 9.5 sack season at 27 years old, Judon would be one of the top emerging pass rushers available on the market behind Clowney.
So what would the framework of a tag-and-trade look like?
For reference, let's take a look at the details from the last three notable pass rushers that were traded.
The Seattle Seahawks sent Frank Clark and a 2020 third-round pick to the Chiefs for a 2019 first-round pick, 2020 second-round pick and 2020 third-round pick.
The Kansas City Chiefs traded Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2020 second-round pick.
The Houston Texans sent Clowney to the Seahawks for a 2020 third-round pick, and outside linebackers Jacob Martin and Barkevious Mingo.
"There's a league-wide demand for pass rushers so a guy like Judon, who made the Pro Bowl last year and is versatile enough to fit into different defenses, should garner some interest," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "It probably wouldn't be at a first-round level, but it's conceivable that the Ravens could get a second-round pick as the Chiefs did for Ford. An interested team would almost have to be willing to part with a second-rounder even to make it worth the Ravens' while."
The Seahawks were the only team to get a first-round pick. It seems like at least a second-round pick would be the bar for trade talks, and Ebony Bird’s Richard Bradshaw agrees. If Judon eventually leaves Baltimore in free agency without a trade, the Ravens would likely net a third-round compensatory pick. But, as may be seen with C.J. Mosley this year, you never know.
Back in February, Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton predicted Judon would be traded to the Miami Dolphins for a 2021 second-round pick and 2021 fifth-round pick.
"If the Ravens prefer to move Judon after the draft, they should call rebuilding teams that have high chances of finishing with sub-.500 records, which would boost the value of the returning pick," Moton wrote.
Ravens Reportedly in Contract Conversations With Reserve Defenders
Judon isn't the only in-house defensive player the Ravens will make decisions on this offseason. According to Zrebiec, the team has had contract conversations with linebacker Pernell McPhee, defensive tackle Justin Ellis, and safety Anthony Levine.
"All of the deals would be relatively low salary, and they would add some depth/experience ahead of free agency and the draft at positions of need," Zrebiec wrote.
These seem to be the type of deals the Ravens can make with just over 30 million in cap space and they have the first crack at re-signing these players before they hit the open market.
McPhee reunited with the Ravens last season on a one-year deal. The veteran had three sacks in seven games before being placed on season-ending injured reserve with a triceps injury. Ellis was one of DeCosta's midseason additions, providing depth on the interior defensive line.
"I]t can’t be overlooked how much the team missed McPhee’s ability to set the edge against the run,” [Russell Street Report’s Dev Panchwagh wrote. "He's someone you'd like to see return, but the coaches will always struggle to make sure he's logging the right amount of snaps to keep him from breaking down."
Levine has always been a versatile defender for the Ravens and a valuable special teams contributor. He played 71.5 percent of the special teams snaps last season, but played his lowest defensive snaps since 2016.
"The question DeCosta must decide is this: After a year of inconsistent special teams performances, should he save roster spots for the aim to get younger or commit at least one to a proven commodity in Levine?" Penn Live’s Aaron Kasinitz wrote.
Ellis could help fortify the middle of the Ravens' defensive line if Michael Pierce departs in free agency, giving addition depth alongside rising second-year run stuffer Daylon Mack.
Lamar Jackson Named One of the NFL's Untradeable Players
To say Lamar Jackson's impact on the Ravens was nothing short of historic seems like an understatement.
That's why it's no surprise that NFL.com’s Adam Rank listed Jackson as one of the league's most untradeable players.
Rank grouped together Jackson with Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson as the only quarterbacks on his list.
"These are the only three quarterbacks currently in the NFL that I would consider off limit," Rank wrote. "You might want to include the Texans' Deshaun Watson, but is he really that untradeable? Like, Watson is a star, but would anything Bill O'Brien could do surprise you after last year's wheeling and dealing? Mahomes is obvious – Kansas City would burn like a giant BBQ pit if he were to exit. Wilson simply is the Seahawks. And Jackson is a national treasure and should be protected at all costs. As for the rest of the QBs, though – yeah, I could see them being traded. Even you, Kyler Murray, though you might be on the untradeable list next year."
It doesn't get much more valuable than Jackson's record-breaking season in 2019, which ended in MVP honors. You can make a case for all three quarterbacks at No. 1, but what Jackson did with his legs was unmatched.
When you consider what teams might package to trade up in the draft to land one of the top quarterback prospects this year, imagine what it would take to trade for Jackson? My guess is that it would include a lot of first-round picks.
The Big-Bodied Receiver Prospect Who Could Fit the Ravens
If you watched the Combine last week, one of the players who stole the spotlight was Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool.
At 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, Claypool tested off the charts. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, had a 40.5-inch vertical jump, and put up 19 reps on the bench press.
The Ravens are in need of pass catchers this offseason, and Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling believes Claypool would be an ideal fit in Baltimore.
"Claypool, who rather quietly had 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, ripped through the combine process," Roling wrote. "He entered rare territory by running a 4.42-second 40 while measuring at 6'4" and 238 pounds. Rare, meaning Calvin Johnson territory, as ESPN Stats & Info noted he's the only one besides Megatron to accomplish such a feat since 2006.
"These numbers alone won't throw Claypool above every name in a wildly deep wideout class. But teams looking for a big-bodied value get in the late first or second round won't come away complaining."
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller reported at the Combine that scouts were already talking about a potential move to tight end for Claypool. But in the Ravens' case, it wouldn't really matter what position he played.
His athleticism at that size would give Jackson another big target down the middle of the field, and he'd be a mismatch for just about any opposing defender.
- Zrebiec said to keep an eye on Pierce's market. "[I]t will be interesting to see how many teams will splurge on a run-stuffing defensive tackle with limited pass-rush success on his resume," Zrebiec wrote. "If only a moderate market develops for Pierce, I could see the Ravens being in the mix."