Analyst Calls Ravens’ $98 Million Star Deal One of The ‘Riskiest Contracts’

Ravens DT Justin Madubuike takes down Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes during AFC Championship game.

Getty Ravens DT Justin Madubuike takes down Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes during AFC Championship game.

The Baltimore Ravens kicked off their free agency by signing one of their homegrown talents to a massive contract that will keep him in the purple and black for the foreseeable future. Star DT Justin Madubuike was the No. 1 priority for Baltimore and general manager Eric DeCosta heading into free agency.

The Ravens gave the DT a 4-Year, $98 Million contract on March 8, which took him off the franchise tag. However, Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport listed the deal as one of the, “8 Riskiest Contracts Signed in 2024 NFL Free Agency.”

Davenport cautioned, “The history of free agency is littered with players who parlayed a big season into an even bigger payday and then never sniffed those heights again.”

Madubuike’s monster 2023 can be certainly classified as a breakout as his numbers surpassed almost every statistical category of his first three seasons in the NFL.

“Madubuike said he’s heard the chatter that last year was an aberration—and he has every intention of proving the doubters wrong and justifying his jackpot second contract,” Davenport reported.

Madubuike became a key cog that moved the engine that was the Ravens 2023 defense and wrecked offensive lines all season. Davenport went on write, “It’s possible that last season was a coming-out party—that Madubuike will continue wreaking havoc this year and establish himself as one of the NFL’s elite defensive tackles.”

Will Justin Madubuike’s 2023 Be the Normal or Outlier

Madubuike’s breakout came at the perfect time as he was entering his 4th-year and more importantly, contract year. The Ravens drafted the big DT in the third round of the 2020 draft and at first, he seemed to be more of a rotational defender.

In the defender’s first two seasons he had a combined 3.0 sacks, 55 combined tackles, 7 QB hits and 14 games started. He started to show signs of a breakout in 2022 as a 16-game starter where he set at the time career highs with 5.0 sacks, 42 combined tackles and 9 QB hits.

These are solid contributions, but his 2023 numbers blew them out of the water. The Ravens attempted to sign the star DT prior to the season, possibly sensing the breakout was coming, but Madubuike bet on himself.

“The fifth-year pro shattered his career highs across the board—56 total tackles, 13 sacks and a jaw-dropping 33 quarterback hits,” Davenport wrote. The 13.0 sacks were the most by a Ravens pass rusher since Terrell Suggs hit double digits.

Davenport did write, “However, that huge season was also an outlier—over Madubuike’s first three professional seasons combined, the 26-year-old had just 8.5 sacks and 16 QB hits.”

Madubuike’s breakout can easily be explained by an increase in playing time and coming into his own. At only age 26, Madubuike is entering his prime years and the Ravens clearly believed this to not be a fluke based on his contract.

“That possibility can’t be ruled out,” Davenport closed with.

Justin Madubuike’s Contract Amongst the Top at the Position

If you ask fans and DeCosta though the Ravens may have gotten a deal considering what the top DTs signed for after this contract.

Davenport wrote, “That massive season earned Madubuike an equally massive payday—$98 million over four seasons. In terms of average annual salary, the only interior linemen who make more are Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs and Christian Wilkins of the Las Vegas Raiders.”

Both Jones and Wilkins were considered the premier DTs on the market as the expectation was that Madubuike would be originally franchised, which he was.

Jones signed his contract just one day after for a massive 5-years, $158.75 million ($31.75 million per year). Wilkins signed his deal 3 days after Madubuike on March 11, which netted him $110 million over 4-years.

Considering both of these contracts, Madubuike may have asked for more money if the Ravens delayed in getting his deal done.

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