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Ravens Near Deadline with Star Defensive Lineman

The Baltimore Ravens are nearing a key deadline for using the franchise tag in their negotiations with star defensive tackle Justin Madubuike.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Baltimore Ravens DT Justin Madubuike
Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike hits Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky on Dec. 11, 2022. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The clock is ticking between the Baltimore Ravens and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, who have until 4 p.m. this afternoon to come to an agreement on a long-term contract extension before the Ravens have to make a decision about whether or not to place the franchise tag on the upstart lineman.

The Ravens have made it clear that they’d like to get a deal done with Madubuike, but that they will probably use the franchise tag if they aren’t able to.

“We’re trying to get a deal done,” general manager Eric DeCosta said last week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. “We’ve had discussions with Justin. He’s a guy that obviously has put himself in a fortuitous position this year by the way that he played. 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.”

Madubuike, 26, had a breakout year in 2023, setting career highs in nearly every statistical category. Baltimore’s third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M, Madubuike became a starter midway through his second season in 2021 and was a full-time starter in 2022.

But he took off in 2023. In his first three seasons combined, Madubuike recorded 8.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits. Last year alone, he had 13 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 33 quarterbacks.

Madubuike finished ninth in the voting for the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award, and was selected to the All-Pro Team and the AFC Pro Bowl roster.

Madubuike just finished his rookie contract and earned only $2.74 million in 2023. He’s due for a big raise. If he plays under the franchise tag amount, he’ll be due $22.1 million on a one-year, fully guaranteed deal. Spotrac is projecting a market value of contract of four years, $81.3 million.

The Ravens have just $12.5 million available, according to OvertheCap.com, so they will have to clear some space if they tag Madubuike.