Ravens place franchise tag on defensive tackle Justin Madubuike

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens on Tuesday placed the franchise tag on Justin Madubuike after they were unable to reach an agreement on a new contract with the Pro Bowl defensive tackle.

General manager Eric DeCosta had until Tuesday at 4 p.m. to reach a long-term deal with Madubuike, but the sides could not reach common ground.

Madubuike will remain a key piece of the Ravens’ 2024 defense and will make $22.1 million playing under the tag next.

“We were unable to agree on a contract extension with Justin before the deadline and will use the franchise tag,” DeCosta said. “Justin is a great player and person, and we will continue to negotiate a long-term deal with him.”

The decision also means that DeCosta will have to trim other parts of the roster. The Ravens had about $12 million to $13 million of salary cap space before they signed Madubuike, and they now have until March 13th to be cap compliant.

DeCosta can get the team back under the salary cap by restructuring the contract of quarterback Lamar Jackson and releasing outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, which would save them about $5.5 million. Several other contract restructures could be in the works.

Madubuike, who was a third-round pick in 2020, led the Ravens and all defensive tackles in the NFL with 13 sacks. He also had 33 quarterback hits — ranked third in the league — and was named second-team All-Pro. His 11 straight games with at least a half-sack (Weeks 4-15) tied for the longest streak in NFL single-season history.

Madubuike earned a base salary of $2.74 million, so his next contract will be a significant pay raise even with the franchise tag. His preference is to stay in Baltimore, but he understands his value in the free-agent market.

The franchise tag also gives the Ravens more time to negotiate a long-term deal with Madubuike. The Ravens have have until July 15th to work out a new deal with Madubuike or he will play the season under the franchise tag. If they can’t reach a deal in July, the team will have until next offseason to revisit talks under NFL rules.

“He’s the guy that has put himself in a fortuitous position this year, by the way, that he played,” DeCosta said about Madubuike last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. “He had a great season for us. He’s a valued player on the team, and we’re hopeful that we can get a long-term deal done.”

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