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Harbaugh: Re-signing Judon is Ravens' top priority

1/17/2020 5:02:55 PM
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John Harbaugh wanted to be playing this weekend, facing questions from the Baltimore press about how his Ravens were planning to stop Patrick Mahomes, Jeremy Bergman of reports.

Instead, after last week's loss to the Tennessee Titans in the Divisional Round, Harbaugh spoke to reporters Friday as part of his year-end press conference, responding to queries about how he is planning to stop his star players from leaving in free agency, chief among them pass rusher Matthew Judon.

Asked how much he wants Judon back in the building and how hard it will be to keep the 27-year-old sackers, Harbaugh responded, "Very much and pretty hard, you know? But we're going to try."

The Ravens coach added, "We're going to try to get as many of these guys re-signed as we can. Matt [Judon] is probably right at the top of the list, for sure. ... Our goal will be to have Matt back."

A 2016 fifth-round pick, Judon will be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins in March and is likely to garner attention on the market. Pass-rushers of his stature at the end of their rookie contracts are hot commodities in a league built around quarterbacks and tackling quarterbacks; Judon is just that.

He logged a career-high 9.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and 33 QB hits in 2019, his first season as a full-time starter. Only Marlon Humphrey and Earl Thomas logged more defensive snaps than Judon (740). His 28.5 sacks since 2016 rank 31st in the league.

In 2019, Judon was replacing the production sparked by Terrell Suggs and Za'Darius Smith, Baltimore's starting edge rushers in 2018 both of whom the Ravens inexplicably lost in free agency. Suggs, then 36, went to Arizona on a one-year deal and was waived midway through the year, while Smith, then 26, broke the bank with a four-year, $66 million deal in Green Bay; he'll be playing on Championship Weekend as the lynchpin of the Packers defense and a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

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