Ravens LB Matthew Judon signs $16.8M franchise tender

Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon signed his $16.8 million franchise tender Thursday after the sides agreed to compromise on the value of the tag, a source confirmed.

The Ravens designated him as an outside linebacker (at $15.8 million), but Judon wanted to be tagged as a defensive end, which is about $2 million more at $17.7 million. Judon and the team decided to meet in the middle before the matter went to arbitration, a source said.

The compromise was first reported by The NFL Network.

This isn't the first time that the Ravens reached such an agreement. In 2008, Baltimore and Terrell Suggs decided to create a hybrid DE-OLB tag for the first time after the Pro Bowl pass-rusher challenged his designation.

The Ravens have a history of signing their franchise players to long-term deals; the NFL deadline for tagged players to do so is July 15. The value of Judon's tag might not be a factor this season if the sides reach a long-term deal by the deadline.

Earlier this month, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta confirmed that the sides have been talking about an extension and expressed optimism that a deal could eventually be reached. DeCosta said in February that a long-term deal was "something that we would love to get accomplished."

Judon, 27, reached the first Pro Bowl of his four-year career after leading the Ravens with a personal-best 9.5 sacks and recording the fourth-most quarterback hits in the NFL with 33.

The Ravens have traditionally used the tag to buy time to get a long-term deal done. The past five players franchised by Baltimore -- cornerback Chris McAlister (2003 and 2004), Suggs (2008 and 2009), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (2011), running back Ray Rice (2012) and kicker Justin Tucker (2016) -- eventually got contracts that made them among the highest-paid players at their positions.

"I'd rather have a long-term deal for stability," Judon said in a text to ESPN's Josina Anderson after being tagged in March. "It is what it is. I feel like this is what many of us go through that are facing free agency. At the end of the day, I know I'm playing football next season."

Judon was considered a candidate to get tagged and traded, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported in January. Sources told Schefter that Ravens officials are likely to listen if another team expresses interest in acquiring Judon.

A fifth-round pick in 2016, Judon was one of three NFL defenders in 2019 to record at least 50 tackles, nine sacks, 30 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles. The others were Shaquil Barrett and T.J. Watt.