Judon Could be Next in Line For a Contract Extension
The Ravens have made it a priority this offseason to lock up their young talent.
Cornerback Tavon Young, tight end Nick Boyle and kicker Justin Tucker received contract extensions, and multiple outlets believe pass rusher Matthew Judon could be next in line.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano listed Judon as one of the top 50 players who could receive a contract extension before training camp. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Judon will make $2.08 million in 2019, per Spotrac.
With the offseason losses of Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith, the Ravens seem determined to keep Judon around long-term, and there’s been mutual interest.
The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec believes the Ravens can afford to give Judon a “lucrative contract extension,” but the task will only get more complicated as free agency approaches.
“[The Ravens] are in line to have more salary-cap space next offseason than they’ve had in years,” Zrebiec wrote. “The more pertinent question is how the Ravens value Judon and whether they’d be willing to make the kind of offer it’s probably going to take to keep the former Grand Valley State standout. The pass-rush market went nuts this offseason, so if Judon has another productive year, he’s going to strike it rich.”
Judon, a former fifth-round pick, has shown the production to warrant that discussion. He’s totaled 15 sacks over the last two seasons and emerged as one of the league’s top young pass rushers.
PennLive’s Aaron Kasinitz acknowledged that the Ravens have plenty of reasons to lock up Judon to a long-term deal, but there are factors to consider from both sides.
“So sure, Judon and the Ravens could agree to a deal within the next month,” Kasinitz wrote. “But Baltimore likes to promote its ‘right player, right price’ philosophy and Judon can sense his potential value on the open market. So don’t count it.”
If Judon and the Ravens can’t agree to a new deal, Ebony Bird’s Richard Bradshaw suggested the possibility of the franchise tag.
Where things could get complicated is how the Ravens would designate Judon’s position. The franchise tag for defensive ends ($17.13 million) was significantly more expensive than linebackers ($15.44 million) this year.
Either way, Bradshaw still believes the Ravens will be Judon’s No. 1 option.
“Short of an injury or massively disappointing season in 2019, there’s no doubt that Judon will be cashing in big-time next spring,” Bradshaw wrote. “The Ravens will be his top-suitor for all the right reasons, and it’s safe to imagine that they’ll do everything they can to keep him in purple and black past this season.”
How Marshal Yanda Can Finish Among the Greats
While the Ravens saw veteran leaders depart this offseason, they return one of the locker room’s most tenured players in Marshal Yanda.
At 34 years old, Yanda will have already built a Canton-worthy resume when he decides to hang up the cleats, but he could rank as one of the top guards in NFL history with a pair of Pro Bowl selections in 2019 and 2020.
As ESPN’s Jamison Hensley wrote, only Randall McDaniel, Will Shields and Larry Allen would have more Pro Bowl selections at guard. All three are Hall of Famers.
“A third-round pick in 2007, Yanda has gone from being the 10th offensive lineman drafted in 2007 to becoming one of the best in the league,” Hensley wrote. “Known for his powerful run blocking, Yanda has shoved three defenders to single-handedly open a hole. A top-notch pass protector, he regularly allows the fewest sacks at his position.
“Yanda has built a reputation on being among the league's most durable players. He ranks fifth among active offensive linemen with 151 starts, which tops all guards currently in the NFL.”
CBS Sports’ Peter Prisco ranked Yanda No. 54 on his Top 100 players list.
One of Yanda’s greatest strengths throughout his career has been his versatility. He’s shown the ability to play at almost every position in the trenches, and do it well.
Hensley noted that finishing healthy will be one of the ultimate determinates in Yanda’s tenure with the Ravens. He signed a one-year extension this offseason and is under contract through the 2020 season.
“If you take the Ravens’ rushing stats from when Lamar Jackson took over as the starting quarterback and extrapolate them over a full 16 game season, then this is a team that has the potential to rush for over 3,000 yards in 2019,” Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness wrote.
“If they do indeed hope to achieve that, having a reliable force on the right side of the line is a must and, as we reach the latter stages of Yanda’s career, we should appreciate his consistent dominance on the offensive line while we can. His career is worthy of a spot in Canton, Ohio, and keeping him around for the next two seasons is key to what the Ravens look to do on offense.
Ravens’ New-Look Offense Will Feature Shorter, Quicker Play Calls
With Greg Roman at the helm of the play-calling duties, the Ravens’ new-look offense has been the main attraction. Not only did the front office add speed around Jackson this offseason, but the Ravens are working to speed up verbiage in the huddle.
One of the biggest differences between Roman and previous offensive coordinators? Shorter play calls.
“While the Ravens will showcase new routes and blocking schemes at times this fall, some of the biggest changes exist in the terminology of playcalls, according to Roman,” Kasinitz wrote. “In the past, a quarterback would gather the offense in the huddle and spell out instructions that stretched as long as 25 words.”
USA Today’s Jarrett Bell believes the terminology could bring an “added comfort level” for Jackson. Kasinitz also said quick play calls could help Jackson gain more control over the tempo of the game.
With only so much time before the start of the regular season, the Ravens can’t waste any time putting together an offense that’s being built from the ground up.
That’s where the quicker play calls come in.
Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier listed Jackson and the “super sophomore quarterbacks” as the second-most important players heading into the 2019 season.
“Jackson will run an option-heavy Ravens offense custom-tailored to his talent,” Tanier wrote. “If it works, it will make the Ravens dangerous again … If it doesn’t, the old-school naysayers will be giddy.”
You can count NFL Network’s David Carr as somebody with a close eye on the situation.
Carr labeled Jackson’s development as one of the biggest quarterback questions heading into training camp.
“I think [the offense] is going to be really good, but there are questions,” Carr said. “Can [Jackson] throw the football down the field? Can he make enough plays in the passing game? Both Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick did a very good job of that along with this offense, so it remains to be seen.”
Study Reveals Ravens’ Fan Support
When it comes to supporting their team, Ravens fans rank among the best in the AFC North.
A study done by the Marketing Analytics Center at Emory University ranked the fanbases for all 32 NFL teams based on three categories: fan equity, social equity and road equity.
The Ravens ranked 18th but finished as a top-10 team (No. 6) in fan equity. The study defined fan equity as “how well fans support their team by backing up their words with dollars — i.e., how much they spend on everything from season tickets to jerseys.”
The Steelers ranked at No. 5, Browns at 27, and Bengals at 28.
Fans will have the opportunity to show their continued support during training camp with 15 free open practices starting July 25.
· Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton listed rookie guard Ben Powers as the surprise starter for the Ravens this season.