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Ravens News 2/17: Judon’s worthy and more

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Judon Is Worth the Investment - John Eisenberg

His departure would leave the Ravens considerably farther from their goal of mounting a more substantial pass rush in 2020. I think that means we’re likely to see him back.

For the record, I think he and his 28.5 career sacks ARE worth the investment. He is an emerging locker room leader and still an ascending player at age 27.

I also sniff some “grass is greener” inflated optimism in the idea of a total rebuild of the pass rush. Is bringing in a new group really preferable to building around Judon? I don’t think so.

For starters, the fact that the Ravens are drafting No. 28 overall pretty much guarantees they won’t add a difference-making rookie to the pass rush this year. Blue-chippers at that position are long gone by late in the first round.

I’ve also seen it suggested the Ravens could tag Judon and trade him because he’d bring a lot in return, an interesting thought. But the Ravens want to win a Super Bowl in 2020 and have every right to believe they can. Their chances are better if they build their pass rush around Judon, their homegrown Pro Bowler, instead of trying to do it without him.

2020 NFL free agency fits: Rivers to Colts? Gordon to Steelers? - Gil Brandt

10) Matthew Judon, OLB: Arizona Cardinals

Judon would fit nicely, coming off his best season with Baltimore. Following the exits of Ravens stalwarts Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs last offseason, Judon took up the pass-rushing mantle, logging 54 tackles and a team- and career-high 9.5 sacks. He also finished with five turnovers caused by pressure, tied for second in the NFL, per Next Gen Stats.

Ravens Defensive Line Faces Key Departures - Todd Karpovich

The Ravens signed defensive tackle Brandon Williams to five-year, $54 million contract in 2018, and that might preclude them from spending big money on another lineman. Pierce could command the highest payday among the free-agent defensive tackles, but his preference is to remain in Baltimore.

”This is the only family I’ve known,” said Pierce, who finished with 35 tackles, a half-sack and one fumble recovery last season. ”I would love for it to continue that way, but the NFL offseason is a beast in itself. So, you have to kind of take it how it goes. It’s out of my hands at this point, but yes, I would always love, love to stay and be a part of this amazing group. They have a strong, strong group coming back next year, obviously, with Lamar [Jackson] at the head, so I’d love to be back. If not, I’ll roll with the punches. But, I just have to get better.”

Peko, 35, has not decided if he will return to the NFL for his 15th season. Ellis, who spent the last five seasons with the Raiders, could re-sign with Baltimore for the right price.

Ward also impressed the Ravens last season. He finished with seven tackles, including a sack, and two fumble recoveries in 11 games.

2020 FREE AGENT PROFILE: DEFENSIVE TACKLE ARIK ARMSTEAD - Jonah Tuls

The most impressive aspect of Armstead’s game is just how physically imposing he is at the point of attack. At 6-foot-7, 290 pounds, good luck trying to handle his combination of length, power and explosion. He can two gap against the run and hold the edge as a five technique, and he can shift down to the three technique and get early disruption in the backfield. His first-step quickness and lower-body explosiveness as a pass rusher makes it almost impossible for interior offensive linemen to have a chance — considering how long he is.

Versatility is king in today’s NFL, and with his ability to play virtually any position on the defensive line, Armstead will likely receive one of the most lucrative contracts of any free agent this offseason.