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Matthew Judon Is the Franchise, But Can Still Level Up in 2020

OLB Matt Judon
OLB Matt Judon

Need to know how Matthew Judon felt about being dubbed the Ravens' franchise player?

It isn't too often that a fifth-round pick out of a small school such as Grand Valley State elevates to franchise status. That's why Judon isn't dissatisfied with inking his lucrative one-year deal.

Sure, long-term security is what everybody wants, but Judon gets a big payday now and the potential to still cash in next offseason.

"What a great story – a Division II fifth round draft choice … And let's just call it like we see it, he's looking at generational wealth down the road here," Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said. "Signing that [franchise tag] just tells you where he's at."

The best part, for both the Ravens and Judon, is he still has plenty of room to grow. Coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance, there's good reason to believe Judon will be even better in 2020.

Judon's pass rush production has steadily climbed over his four years, with a career-high 9.5 sacks last year. That wasn't exactly reflective of the amount of pressure he got on quarterbacks, however. Judon's 33 quarterback hits were the fourth-most in the NFL.

The Ravens blitzed far more than any other team in the NFL, generating pressure by sending extra attackers. With the additions of Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe in free agency, opposing offensive lines will have a lot more to worry about. That could open up more opportunities for Judon.

"I'm excited to watch him this year," Martindale said. "He's ready to take his pass rushing to the next level, and I just see nothing but great things coming from Matt."

Judon called the additions of Campbell and Wolfe "huge" for the defense overall, but eschewed how it will help him directly. Regardless, he'll receive more help.

Both veterans know how to get after quarterbacks themselves and are also adept as the "under" in stunts, drawing extra blockers to open up pass rush lanes for looping "over" rushers (such as Judon).

Judon is putting in the work to capitalize. Though it's been a strange offseason with COVID-19, Judon is preparing to make 2020 an even bigger year.

"You all know, I'm a workaholic. I'm running; I'm working out every day – twice, three times a day," Judon said. "When you get a break like this, you kind of try to stay away from football, but this is what we do; this is what I love, so it always reels us back in."

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