Patrick Queen, like everyone else around Baltimore, thought the Ravens would be preparing for Las Vegas this week.
Queen, however, can take solace in the fact that his individual 2024 season ended healthy and productive. Now he and other Ravens head into free agency with a lucrative payday ahead after a successful season.
The Ravens will likely work to try to retain Queen. After all, General Manager Eric DeCosta said last May that he wants to sign Queen to an extension. But after a Pro Bowl season, the price has gone up.
Queen said he would "of course" like to stay in Baltimore, but can the Ravens afford it?
"It's where I started it at, so it would definitely be nice if I'm back," Queen said. "At the same time, I just have to do what's best for me [and] do what's best for my family. Then, [the Ravens] have to do what's best for them on the other side as well. Wherever that leads to, it's up to God."
Queen said his strategy will be to "pray on it."
Queen had a breakout fourth season that established him as one of the top in the game at his position. He made a career-high 133 tackles, 3.5 sacks, one interception, and nine tackles for loss.
He's far from the only "breakout" player the Ravens had that could hit the free-agent market this offseason.
Veteran outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney finished second on the team with 9.5 sacks, proving he still had more left in the tank at 30 years old.
Clowney has played much of his career on one-year contracts, part of why he's already been on five teams. He said he would "love to come back here."
"I enjoyed coming to work," he said. "It made my life a lot easier this year. That's probably why I played at a high level because I [didn't] have any pressure. I would just come in, have fun and be yourself and just play ball. There was never any pressure throughout the week on anybody."
Kyle Van Noy joined the Ravens midway through the season and registered nine sacks. He said he'll take his time again this offseason to make a decision.
"I'll have to talk to my people," he said. "[With] getting a little more experienced and having a family, just, things might be a little different, so we'll see."
Safety Geno Stone is in a different situation as a younger player who is looking for a full-time starting role. After leading the AFC with seven interceptions, Stone feels like he put himself on the map and is waiting to see whether other teams see the same.
"I feel like I showed what I can do in this league," he said. "I feel like this was kind of my breakout year.
"I'm just going to wait and see. It's something I'll have to talk to my agent [about] and we'll talk with teams about. I'm not going to think about it right now. At the end of the day, I know where my value is and stuff like that, but it is what it is. I appreciate this organization. My role is my role here, and whatever options I have next, whatever it is – if I'm here or not here or somewhere else – at the end of the day, I'll still be me."
The player who sounded strongest in his desire to return to the Ravens was veteran guard Kevin Zeitler, who is going to his first Pro Bowl as a replacement of Joe Thuney. Zeitler will turn 34 days before free agency opens and is entering his 13th season.
"I am ready to roll," Zeitler said. "Obviously, I want to be back as a Baltimore Raven, there is no doubt about that. I've loved my time here, I love the people here, love my teammates here, and I want to keep playing with them. Hopefully that business side of football can be figured out nice and quick, and we can get that taken care of."