Trent Simpson likely Ravens heir to Patrick Queen at inside linebacker

OWINGS MILLS — Ravens inside linebacker Patrick Queen had a dominant season, earning second-team All-Pro honors.

However, the Ravens decided not to use the fifth-year option on Queen before last season, so he is an unrestricted free agent.  Queen would like to remain in Baltimore, but he understands the business side of the NFL and how the salary cap creates roster turnover.

In addition, the Ravens signed fellow inside linebacker Roquan Smith to a five-year, $100-million deal last year, so there is not a lot of money to pay Queen with 21 other unrestricted free agents this offseason.

General manager Eric DeCosta foresaw this potential challenge and selected inside linebacker Trenton Simpson in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft from Clemson as a potential replacement for Queen.

“Patrick had an amazing season. I love Patrick,” DeCosta said. “He’s one of my favorite guys on the team. He’s put himself in a great position, potentially, to hit the market and see what his value is. You never know. If you pick up an option, that’s less money you can spend on somebody else, so how do those dominoes fall? [It’s] really hard to say.”

While Simspon had a limited role as a rookie, he showed the potential of his play-making ability in the regular-season finale against the Steelers, finishing with five tackles, including his first career sack that forced a third-and-20. He also had two tackles for a loss and played a season-high 26 defensive snaps.

“It just opened up for me, and I was like, ‘I’ve got to go make a play.’ I’m just so blessed with the opportunity to go out there and be able to showcase my talents – just staying patient and trusting the process,” Simpson said after the game. “And just knowing God has a plan for me was my main message to myself, personally, all through the season. So, to go out there and make a couple of plays for the team, I feel like I’m headed in the right direction, for sure.” 

As for Queen, he could command a four-year contract worth $67 million in the free-agent market, according to projections by Spotrac. That deal would be higher than the Ravens’ comfort level, considering the team’s other needs and the restraint of the salary cap.

The Ravens currently have just $7.3 million in cap space, according to overthecap.com.

“I can say that Patrick – I know Coach [John Harbaugh] feels the same way – he had an excellent season, a Pro Bowl season,” DeCosta said. “His future is extremely bright. He’s one of the best inside linebackers in the league. [That’s a] credit to him. I’m very happy for him. [I’m] very, very happy for his family. He’s a special player and a special person.”

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