When the franchise tag was introduced, it was intended for teams to be able to keep their top stars.
Instead, the tag is used by plenty of teams to hold on to their top potential free agent. That thins out the market every year.
Matt Judon isn’t exactly a star, but he is a valuable defender for the Baltimore Ravens. And he’s getting the franchise tag. Cross another potential free agent off the list.
Matt Judon will be tagged
Judon will officially be tagged by the Ravens. The deadline is Monday.
We have designated OLB Matthew Judon as our 2020 franchise player. pic.twitter.com/Jf7WN7CI7d— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) March 13, 2020
The “OLB” in that tweet is important. The franchise tag for defensive ends was $19.3 million last year, while it was $16.3 million for linebackers. There will be a similar split this year. The difference in money will not please Judon, which could make things uncomfortable.
Judon has 28.5 sacks in four seasons, with 9.5 sacks last season. He’s 27 years old. The Ravens, who lost a lot of defensive talent last offseason and just had Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda retire, don’t want to lose another talented player for nothing. Perhaps there’s a tag-and-trade scenario, but the Ravens aren’t losing Judon for nothing.
NFL moving forward with free agency
There are layers of uncertainty for the NFL and all of sports. COVID-19 has canceled most sporting events, but as of Friday, the NFL planned to move forward with the start of free agency next week. There’s also the matter of the collective bargaining agreement, which is being voted on and could change the landscape of the business side of the NFL.
But teams have to make decisions on franchise tags as if free agency will happen as usual. The Ravens are coming off a 14-2 season and are hoping to make a run at a Super Bowl next season.
They could have a battle on their hands with Judon and the tag, and perhaps he’ll be on the move, but Baltimore is using all the tools at its disposal this offseason.
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