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Why the Ravens are getting a valuable investment in four more years with John Harbaugh

Why the Ravens are getting a valuable investment in four more years with John Harbaugh

After Jon Gruden signed a 10-year, $100 million deal to join the Oakland Raiders, fans of the Ravens were left wondering how much it would cost to extend John Harbaugh.

If Gruden is worth $100 million, then how much is the man who led the Ravens to seven postseason appearances in eleven years, including 10 playoff victories and the franchise’s second Super Bowl championship worth? How many years were the Ravens going to have to commit to locking up their head coach?

The answer, it turns out, is smaller than might have been expected.

The team clarified that it’s a new four-year contract, not an extension on his existing deal, meaning Harbaugh is now signed through the 2022 season. The exact terms are unclear, as the Ravens don’t typically release specifics, but it appears he’ll be well-compensated relative to his peers.

This is a simple, straightforward deal which will keep Harbaugh in Baltimore through the next few years, allowing him to continue to rebuild the roster around their newest QB. That, in a vacuum, isn't particularly exciting. For Ravens fans? It’s news worth cheering.

It doesn't sound like a long time, especially when compared to Gruden’s deal, but four years is an eternity in the NFL. It’s really more of a three-year deal, as ownership would likely want to avoid a lame duck season if it came to that.

By 2022, Lamar Jackson might no longer be a Raven, if the team chooses not to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Obviously, the front office is hoping Jackson will have established himself as a long term fixture at quarterback by then, but the point remains, it could be a completely different roster.

The Ravens as an organization also preach consistency, especially when it comes to leadership. When Ozzie Newsome stepped down as general manager, it was longtime right-hand man Eric DeCosta who stepped up to fill the role. With that shift, it was thought that Harbaugh may seek greater responsibilities in building out the team’s roster, but he clarified that wasn't the case.

Despite a full month elapsing between the time the Ravens announced they were working toward an agreement and the report that a deal had been reached, Harbaugh says the negotiations went “real smooth.” This is clearly an outcome all sides want to come to.

It’s not a surprising contract, good or bad. It’s a reasonable length, maybe only a year or two shorter than expected. It seems to be for a reasonable amount of money per season, and there were no sweeping changes in responsibility for any party.

This past season, Harbaugh recorded his 100th win with the Ravens. With this contract, he’ll have the chance to add plenty more to that total in the next few years.

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Edge rusher Matthew Judon and Ravens agree to compromise on franchise tag

Edge rusher Matthew Judon and Ravens agree to compromise on franchise tag

What position Matthew Judon plays makes a bit of a difference when it comes to how much the NFL says he’s worth. In fact, it’s about two million dollars of difference.

If Judon was classified as a defensive end, he’d make $17.788 million on the franchise tag. If he was a linebacker, he’d make $15.828 million. 

Judon’s position as an edge rusher means he’s a bit of a hybrid, so that’s exactly what he and the Ravens agreed to. Judon will make $16.808 million next season, the average of both salaries, the team announced on Friday.

Now, the Ravens and Judon can continue negotiations on a long-term contract until July 15, at which point he’ll play under the franchise tag and be forced to wait until the end of the 2020 season. 

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Judon, who had 9.5 sacks last season, will be 28 years old when the season begins. He’ll likely start opposite Jaylon Ferguson, a 2019 third-round pick who had 2.5 sacks in his rookie season. 

If the Ravens agree to a long-term deal with Judon, it will likely be the first in a line of many long-term contracts to come on a team loaded with young talent. That deal would likely allow the Ravens to spread out his cap hit over multiple seasons and increase the likelihood of re-signing other future free agents on the roster.

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John Harbaugh explains how the Ravens plan to use first-round linebacker Patrick Queen

John Harbaugh explains how the Ravens plan to use first-round linebacker Patrick Queen

The Ravens hit a home run in the NFL draft when Patrick Queen fell to them at 28th overall. 

Queen, likely the best player in the draft available when the Ravens picked, filled the biggest position of need for the Ravens at inside linebacker. 

The question now, though, is how he’ll be used. 

“Patrick Queen will probably be... we’ll play him probably at MIKE [linebacker] for the most part, right there in the middle,” Harbaugh said on a Thursday conference call with Ravens season-ticket holders. “We’ll let him use his speed and instincts to run around and make plays at all three phases. He’ll be a three-down guy, both in our base package and our sub package.”

Queen made 85 tackles last season at LSU, his only season as a starter. The Ravens loved his ability to play sideline-to-sideline; his coverage ability dictates keeping him on the field for all three downs. 

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The Ravens have L.J. Fort, Otaro Alaka, Chris Board and Jake Ryan as some veteran help on the inside as well, but they’ve got another talented rookie in Malik Harrison. 

At Ohio State, Harrison registered 75 tackles in 2019 and had 16.5 tackles for loss. Even at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds, Harrison is still an athletic linebacker who can provide big hits and run defense, and perhaps even his underrated coverage skills.

“Malik ... we’ll probably start him off at WILL [linebacker] in the base package, but he’ll probably be repping in the base package at MIKE,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll flip those guys around. We move those guys back and forth.”

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