Harbaugh: Ravens' goal is to re-sign Matthew Judon

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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.

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.

That is all to say Baltimore can't afford to lose another young pass rusher in free agency this season, and might have to shell out some serious capital to keep Judon in the DMV.

Judon, who ranks 22nd on NFL Network's Gregg Rosenthal's list of top free agents, is likely looking at a pay day commensurate with that of Smith's, given his latest production and Baltimore's desperation not to lose him.

In addition to wanting to keep Judon, Harbaugh said he wants to exercise cornerback Brandon Carr's option and re-sign cornerback Jimmy Smith, defensive tackle Michael Pierce and linebacker Patrick Onwuasor to a defense that ranked fourth in yards allowed in 2019 but was smacked around in Saturday's defeat.

"We don't have a lot of work to do in the secondary," Harbaugh said. "Not to say we wouldn't pass up a really good player."

On offense, the Ravens coach indicated an interest in improving the receiver corps, as well.

"We have a really good feel for the type of receivers we want to bring in," Harbaugh said. "Without letting the cat out of the bag too much, we want a certain of guy and we want a certain type of other guy that would fit us, and we'll be looking hard for those guys to fit us, you know what I mean?"

Not really, but Harbaugh has two months to clarify his desires before free agency kicks off in earnest. We already know who's atop his to-sign list.

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