Outside linebacker Matthew Judon wants to be a Raven for a long time, he said Thursday, after the final day of mandatory minicamp. He’s just not sure what that will take.
Judon, who’s entering the final year of his rookie contract, declined to comment on the status of negotiations on a contract extension, instead joking about how he hopes he gets “Russell Wilson money.” The Seattle Seahawks quarterback signed a four-year extension this offseason worth $140 million, including a $65 million signing bonus.
Despite his absence from voluntary offseason team activities over the past month, Judon arrived in shape this week and performed well during practice, coach John Harbaugh said.
With Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith no longer on the team, the 27-year-old Judon leads all returning Ravens with seven sacks. Three of his sacks last season came on consecutive plays against the Oakland Raiders.
As he heads into what could be the final training camp and season of his Ravens career, Judon is focused on the present rather than the future.
“There's no guarantee I'll play one game this season,” Judon said. “I'll go at every game like it's my last and I'm going to enjoy it while I'm here, because I have no clue what the future holds.”
If it were up to him, Judon knows where he would choose to play.
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“Hopefully, I’ll be here forever and ever,” Judon said. “Here, I feel at home. It’s comfortable. I could almost drive to work with my eyes closed.”
The Ravens selected Judon in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, and he's started 20 of his 46 games over the past three years. Every season, he’s had the same goal: to lead the league in sacks and “be the best Matthew Judon” he can.
Among players drafted in 2016, Judon ranks fifth in the NFL in total sacks. Some of his peers have skipped mandatory minicamp as they seek larger contracts. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (Maryland), who leads the 2016 draft class in sacks, sat out the Jacksonville Jaguars’ mandatory minicamp because his “contract has not been resolved." Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones also bypassed minicamp because of stalled contract negotiations.
Even with the sizable deals handed out to edge rushers this offseason — Smith signed a four-year, $66 million contract with the Green Bay Packers — Judon said he isn’t paying attention to the market.
“I congratulate those guys, the guys I knew,” Judon said. “But besides that, that’s not my contract.”
He’s just focused on bettering himself and hoping he’ll get to stick around.
“I enjoy coming to work,” Judon said. “That's why hopefully I stay around here a long time.”