Matt Judon 'blessed' to play for Ravens under franchise tag

Linebacker coming off best season as a pro

Matt Judon doesn't forget a slight.

He once read an article that said he went to "Garden Valley State" as opposed to Grand Valley State in Michigan. 

Judon, however, often has the last word with his naysayers and is proud of his rise in the NFL. So, Judon has no problem playing under the franchise tag in Baltimore because it means the team holds him in high regard. 

The designation also means he'll make $16.8 million this year before trying to find another long-term deal with the Ravens or elsewhere.  

“I’m pleased to be tagged. I feel like only a few players get to go through this in their lifetime," he said in a Zoom call with the media. "As much as I want stability in the future, that I’m proud of where I’m at and where I came from … A fifth-round draft pick out of Grand – or how you all pronounced it, ‘Garden Valley State’ – but out of Grand Valley State. 

"I’m pleased with how my career has been going. As far as the progress, we still have until the [July] 15th. I think we’ve got 30 more days to work out a long-term contract."

Judon is coming off one of his finest years as a pro, leading the team with 9.5 sacks and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl. He also ranked fourth in the NFL with 33 quarterback hits.

Over the past three years, Judon has recorded the Ravens' most tackles for loss (41) and sacks (24.5). In his four-year NFL career, he owns 28.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles. 

Za'Darius Smith, who was the Ravens' sacks leader in 2018, signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the Green Bay Packers as a free agent in 2019. Judon might command a similar contract if he can hit the open market in 2021.

"I’m blessed to have to play under this tag. I get to play this game, and as long as I continue to play this game, I’m going to feel blessed," Judon said. "If I have to play under the tag, that’s good for me, because it’s another year. After that, it’ll be my sixth year playing in the National Football League."