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Madubuike, Ravens agree to four-year, $98 million deal

Just three days after placing the franchise tag on 2023 Pro Bowl selection Justin Madubuike, the Ravens have struck a record long-term deal with their star defensive tackle.

Rather than carry a prohibitive $22.102 million figure on its salary cap entering the start of free agency next week, Baltimore announced a four-year contract with Madubuike, 26, worth $98 million, making him the second-highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL in terms of average annual value ($24.5 million) behind future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald ($31.67 million). According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the deal includes $75.5 million in total guarantees and $53.5 million guaranteed at signing. Those reported guarantees would be records for an interior defensive lineman, according to OverTheCap.com and Pro Football Focus.

Details of the four-year deal were not announced by the team, but the contract will lower his 2024 cap number and assist general manager Eric DeCosta in his attempts to re-sign some other free agents and augment the roster for the upcoming season.

“Justin is one of the best defensive tackles in the entire NFL and a cornerstone on our defense,” DeCosta said in a statement released by the team. “We are thrilled for Justin and his family and equally happy for our fan base. This is a great way to start the new league year!”

The 2020 third-round pick out of Texas A&M is coming off a monster breakout year that included 13 sacks, the most in the league by an interior defensive lineman and most by a Baltimore player since Elvis Dumervil’s franchise-record 17 in 2014. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound Madubuike also led the Ravens with 33 quarterback hits, and Pro Football Focus tracked him being responsible for 77 pressures, second on the team to edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney (78). Those numbers dwarfed Madubuike’s previous career highs in sacks (5 1/2) and pressures (32) set in 2022. 

In 2023, Madubuike set a Ravens record by registering a full sack in six straight games and tied an NFL single-season record by collecting at least a half-sack in 11 consecutive contests. He also tied Trevor Pryce (2006) for the fifth-most sacks in a season in franchise history. Pro Football Focus graded Madubuike 17th overall and 12th in pass-rush grade among qualified interior defenders. 

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The last five NFL seasons included a total of only 15 double-digit sack campaigns from interior defensive linemen, which is why the Ravens were determined to keep Madubuike from hitting the open market as an unrestricted free agent. Prior to this week, he was one of four pending free agents finishing in Baltimore’s top five for sacks last season, the others being Clowney (9 1/2), Kyle Van Noy (nine), and Patrick Queen (3 1/2). The Ravens defense led the NFL with 60 sacks in 2023.

Of the nine players to receive the franchise tag in team history, Madubuike becomes the seventh to agree to a long-term contract with the organization. Now, the Ravens will trust him to continue providing premium pass-rush production and serving as the anchor for the defensive line after making such a lucrative investment for the next four years.

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