The franchise tag is sometimes looked at negatively by players, who could deem it disrespectful that a franchise doesn’t want to immediately commit to them long-term while also holding them back from achieving contractual security elsewhere in free agency. Ravens linebacker Matt Judon, however, is not one of those players. In fact, he seems content with the fact that Baltimore placed the franchise tag on him back in mid-March.
“I’m pleased to be tagged,” Judon told reporters during a video conference on Monday. “I feel like only a few players get to go through this in their lifetime. As much as I want stability in the future, I’m proud of where I’m at and where I came. I’m a fifth-round draft pick out of Grand Valley State.”
Prior to last season where he earned just over $2 million, Judon was making less than $1 million a season thanks to his fifth-round draft status in 2016. Under the tag, which Judon signed in late-May, the 27-year-old is set to bring home $16.808 million in 2020. Of course, the Ravens and Judon could rip up that franchise tender in the next few weeks and come to terms on a long-term extension, which is something the linebacker is very much open to discussing prior to the July 15 deadline. If no deal is reached by that point, Judon will be playing under the tag.
“I think we have 30 more days to work out a long-term contract,” he said. “I’m happy to be a Raven. I want to stay here for as long as I play, but I understand that it’s a business and they kind of have a bad/good problem to have. We have a lot of young talent.”
Judon started in all 16 games for the Ravens in 2019, which proved to be a breakout year for him. He posted career-highs in sacks (9.5), forced fumbles (4) and quarterback hits (33). The 6-foot-3, 261-pounder was also fourth on the team in total tackles (54) and that strong play helped Judon receive the first Pro Bowl nod of his career.
The Ravens are coming off a 2019 season where they were able to go 14-2, win the AFC North and watch quarterback Lamar Jackson emerge as the league MVP. Defensively, they allowed the third-fewest points per game and the fourth-fewest total yards per game. If they are able to replicate that success in 2020 with Judon helping lead the way on defense, the linebacker will be well on his way to getting some long-term security the next time he put pen-to-paper on a contract.