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The Baltimore Ravens have put together a 6-3 record during the 2021 regular season, which through 10 weeks is enough to put them on top of the illustrious AFC North division. It hasn’t been a perfect year for Baltimore, but they’ve shown that they are a resilient bunch that can hang with some of the top teams in the league.
Before the regular season began, the Ravens went through an eventful offseason, as they brought in new faces and saw old faces depart. Then in the weeks leading up to the year, Baltimore was struck hard by the injury bug, something that is still true today. When identifying the “most boneheaded decision” of 2021 by each NFL team, Brett Sobleski of Bleacher Report picked letting outside linebacker Matthew Judon leave in free agency as his choice for the Ravens. When explaining why, Sobleski pointed to Judon’s production as a key reason.
“The decision to let Matthew Judon leave in free agency was a big mistake because the outside linebacker has been superb for the New England Patriots. His 9.5 sacks through 10 weeks—which matches a career high—are tied for fourth overall.”
Sobleski also pointed out Judon’s first year cap hit, which could have been reasonable for Baltimore to work with.
“The Ravens didn’t place the franchise tag on Judon, and there were conflicting reports on what his salary demands really were. But a $6.3 million salary-cap charge this fall is manageable. In fact, it’s close to what the Ravens spent on Justin Houston’s addition and Tyus Bowser’s new deal.”
Judon added on another sack in the Patriots’ 26-0 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11. The sack pushed Judon over 10 for the year, which marks a career-high for a single season for the outside linebacker at 10.5, which is more than double what the Ravens’ sack leader has right now in Odafe Oweh, who has four.
With how well Baltimore has drafted over the years, there were always bound to be players who the team would have to let walk, even if they were reluctant to do so. Fellow outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith departed the Ravens for a big money deal with the Green Bay Packers, and Judon did the same as he went to New England on a four-year, $54 million deal.
Judon never surpassed 9.5 sacks in a Baltimore uniform, so some were reluctant to sign him to a lucrative contract, especially with so many other players needed extensions in the coming years. There’s no doubt that the Ravens could have used Judon and would love to have him right now, but they made a decision to prioritize other players, and now they must work with what they’ve got.