After a playoff loss, there are a million things going through a player's head. But following the Ravens' divisional loss in Buffalo, outside linebacker Matthew Judon and wide receiver Willie Snead IV both, unprompted, gushed about their time in Baltimore.
Both veterans are pending unrestricted free agents this season, and the Ravens will have tough decisions to make regarding their future.
The Ravens placed the franchise tag, worth $16.8 million per Spotrac, on Judon last offseason. They could put it on him again, but they have another star outside linebacker in Yannick Ngakoue to consider as well.
Both are pending unrestricted free agents and the Ravens traded a reported 2021 third-round pick and conditional 2022 fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings to acquire Ngakoue.
At the start of his postgame press conference, Judon's first words were a "thank you" to the Ravens.
"I don't know what's going to happen in my future – that's all out in front of me. But the past five years, man, it's been a hell of a ride," Judon said. "I wouldn't ask for another organization, or coaches, or mentors, or players to play with, man. Some of these guys [that] I've played with, they're my real brothers. [They're my] real-life brothers. So, with that being said, I love the Ravens and the organization. I would just like to thank them."
Judon has been an ultra-productive player for the Ravens. During his five seasons, he's produced 34.5 sacks and 103 quarterback hits. In 2019, Judon had 9.5 sacks and 33 quarterback hits.
This year, those numbers dipped a bit to six sacks and 21 quarterback hits, but Judon made some huge plays. He had a sack-strip on Bills quarterback Josh Allen, but the Ravens didn't recover the fumble that could have flipped the game.
The Ravens have more to figure out on the edge because, outside of Judon and Ngakoue, Tyus Bowser, Pernell McPhee and Jihad Ward are all also pending unrestricted free agents. Rising third-year linebacker Jaylon Ferguson is the only outside linebacker with starting experience under contract for next year.
"Man, the Ravens do a great job, as an organization, of getting players in here," Judon said. "They do a great job of drafting and free agency and picking players up. So, as an organization, they're going to have to step back, look at the roster, look [at] how they want to go with the roster.
"But as me personally, I have no clue. I don't really know. I'm not in those meetings. I'm not the higher-ups. If they want me here, like I said, this is home. This has been home since I got in the NFL, but if not, I enjoyed my five years."
Snead is also a position group where the Ravens will do a deep evaluation as Baltimore will focus on improving its passing attack this offseason. The Ravens have drafted a pair of wide receivers each of the past two years – Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin in 2019 and Devin Duvernay and James Proche II in 2020.
Brown led the Ravens in receiving yards (769), touchdowns (8) and was tied for the team lead with Mark Andrews in receptions (58). Snead was third on the team in receptions (33) and receiving yards (432), and was the unquestioned leader of the group. He is also a tremendous run blocker.
The Ravens signed Snead to a contract extension before the 2019 season ended. Now they'll have to decide whether to bring him back, see if one of their younger receivers could step into his shoes, or bring in another veteran and/or more youth.
"I just want to say one thing: I really appreciate this organization for the chance they gave me after New Orleans. It's been an incredible three years," Snead said.
"I don't know what my future is going to look like after tonight, but I'm very hopeful and thankful for everything Baltimore has given me. [There's] a great group of people here; great coaches, great players, staff, support staff. You guys have been awesome. The media has been 'A-1.' We endured a lot this year, but I wouldn't want to do it with any other team. I love these guys in this locker room, and these last three years have been an incredible journey."