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Matt Judon not concerned about pending free agency

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Matt Judon is headed toward free agency, and a year after he watched his former fellow Ravens leave for bigger paydays elsewhere, he might soon experience a similar reality.

Take Za'Darius Smith, for instance. The former Ravens edge rusher left Baltimore for a new deal in Green Bay and flourished, racking up 55 tackles, 13.5 sacks and a trip to the Pro Bowl. Smith's talents were evident before he left the Ravens, but they became impossible to ignore with the Packers.

Judon also found himself at the Pro Bowl this season, enjoying a reunion with his former teammate as well as taking the first steps in a process that's not that much different than the one Smith experienced a year earlier.

He's living amid uncertainty, and he knows the questions are coming. In fact, he laughed when his impending free agency was even indirectly mentioned.

"I don't know where I'ma be at next year, man," Judon said with a chuckle and a smile Wednesday when speaking with "I don't know. It's a lot of organizations represented out here. Baltimore got the most. I don't know, I honestly don't know. That's really a decision between me, my GM and my agent.

"It's going to be a fun process but I'm trusting it right now. Right now, I'm really worried about, you know, I just had a little baby. So I'ma worry about him a little bit and then I'ma let that handle itself out. I'm not going to stress over it. It's going to happen when it's going to happen and it's gonna be on God's time."

While Judon is changing diapers and feeding little Leonidas his bottles, his agent is likely preparing for upcoming contract negotiations with what is expected to be a number of suitors. Oddly enough, Leonidas' arrival might have been the perfect distraction for Judon.

"It's a process that you can't stress over," Judon said. "You had to take care of your stuff the first four years. And when you're in this situation, I don't think it's gonna be no negatives really out of this situation. Everything's going to be a positive and however it handles itself out, it will and I think I'm gonna be happy on the other side."

Smith was certainly happy with his decision, which also included a trip to the NFC Championship Game in his first season with the Packers, as well as a contract that pays him an annual average of $16.5 million. That's a lot more than the annual average payout of $648,934, and his highest salary of a little over $2 million, which he received in 2019.

Judon's statistics are actually slightly better than Smith's were through four years, with Judon racking up 10 more combined sacks than Smith. Judon's total tackles and forced fumbles were also higher than Smith's after four seasons.

The Ravens draft the position well, we can conclude. But after letting one walk, they'd be wise to keep the other, which coach John Harbaugh said last week is Baltimore's goal.

"It's different situations. Za'Darius blossomed in Green Bay," Judon said. "He took over as a leader, a vocal leader, a community leader and a team leader. And he had his best season. I feel like he was comfortable, he was in his own skin so anywhere and everywhere players can blossom. So I gotta just have patience.

"I've just gotta have patience, man. I can't rush it. It's going to happen when it's gonna happen."

In the meantime, Judon has his son to care for and a Pro Bowl to try to win. He's here instead of preparing to fly to Miami because his Ravens fell short of reaching their goal, the Super Bowl, but it's a source of motivation for him now.

"A little heartbreaking, but you know, the good thing is everybody here are losers," Judon said with a laugh. "I'm around some of the best players in the world. We're still plotting to jump Derrick Henry, all 13 of him. But only one team is going to be happy at the end of the year and everybody else is going to grind to become that one team. So I gotta find out what team I'ma be on, and then we're gonna grind after that."

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