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Ravens want to retain breakout defensive star

by Moxieplay

Justin Madubuike entered 2023 with the potential to boost his free agent stock through a strong performance in the final year of his rookie contract. To say he has done so would be an understatement to say the least.

The Ravens defensive lineman has enjoyed a breakout campaign this year, essentially upping his market value on an every-game basis. Madubuike has easily surpassed his previous career-high for sacks in a season with 9.5 and counting. That figure leads the team and he has recorded at least 0.5 sacks in eight consecutive contests.

That production has the 26-year-old in line for a significant payday this offseason. A report from last month made it clear teams around the NFL expected a notable raise to come Madubuike’s way either on a Ravens extension or a deal from an outside team. The DT market made considerable gains in 2023 with Quinnen Williams, Jeffery Simmons, Daron Payne, Dexter Lawrence and Ed Oliver among the young contributors at the position who landed sizeable second contracts with their respective teams.

Madubuike could very well be next in line to join that group from a financial standpoint. Oliver’s Bills deal carries an AAV of $17M, while the other four aforementioned players range between $22.5M and $24M in that regard. No firm numbers have emerged with respect to an asking price from Madubuike, but to no surprise Baltimore is interested in reaching an agreement. The Ravens hope to retain the Texas A&M product, Dianna Russini of The Athletic writes (subscription required).

Baltimore already made one notable investment in its D-line in 2023, signing Broderick Washington to a three-year, $15.75M extension in the summer. Madubuike, a fellow 2020 draftee, will be able to command a much larger deal than that if/when he reaches the open market. Working out a long-term agreement with the latter could prove to be a challenge for the Ravens, given the structure of Lamar Jackson‘s mega-contract and its scheduled jumps in cap hits in future years.

Of course, the franchise tag could be an option at Baltimore’s disposal to at least prevent Madubuike from reaching free agency. The one-year tender is projected to cost roughly $20.9M, a sign of the upward trend the DT market experienced last summer. The Commanders took the franchise tag route with Payne before ultimately working out an agreement. A similar path could be in store for Madubuike and the Ravens, though it will be interesting to see how high his asking price climbs in the wake of his breakout campaign.

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