To find the premier edge rusher the NY Giants are looking for, Big Blue will likely need to use free agency. Is Matthew Judon a good fit?
While most NY Giants fans have mainly discussed Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakoue as edge rushers worthy of spending big money on, Baltimore’s Matthew Judon might represent the best actual fit on Big Blue’s defense.
The 28-year-old former small college player exploded in 2019 and was one of the big reasons the Ravens had the best team in football and the top-ranked defense during the regular season. Starting with a monster senior season at Grand Valley State that saw him rack up 20 sacks, Judon has continued to push momentum and improve every season in the NFL.
Despite playing at a small college, Judon ripped up the NFL combine and is an athletic specimen. A true 3/4 outside linebacker and edge rusher, Judon has the speed, strength, and leverage to get to the quarterback with the best of them.
During his rookie year that saw his role call for him to be a mostly situational pass rusher, notching four sacks, Judon’s responsibilities expanded during his second season in 2017 and he took the added reps and ran with them. Judon’s QB hits went up every season, going from 10 in 2016 to 19, 20 and then an absurd 33 during the last year on his contract in 2019.
Judon picked an excellent time to have his best season as a professional and will surely be a hot commodity on the open market. His floor seems to be established as he notched between 7 and 9.5 sacks from 2017-2019 after picking up 4 as a rookie in limited snaps.
His 2019 stats show he was the heart and soul of the Ravens’ pass rush, with the free-agent-to-be accumulating 54 tackles, 14 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and the aforementioned 33 quarterback hits.
If that type of production leaves you drooling as a NY Giants fan, it should. However, the ascending player is sure to break the bank in free agency and will likely go after every last dollar after playing out his fifth-round rookie deal.
Spotrac has his value pegged at 4/$65M (16.3 APY), which puts him right in line with another former Raven, Za’Darius Smith, who just landed a similar deal at a similar point in his career last offseason.
The way Smith turned around the Packers’ defense in 2019 should only further instill confidence in Judon, as many have rightly questioned if Ravens pass-rushers are scheme dependent based on playing for the wizard that is Don ‘Wink’ Martindale.
Smith proved that that’s not always the case, and it’s likely he made his former teammate some money by having the type of year he had with a new team. With pass-rushing at more of a premium than ever, Judon has a legit chance to blow his Spotrac estimated value out of the water.
Whoever lands the ever-improving player’s services will be paying handsomely for them, but when you’re dealing with a player like Judon who we still may have not seen the best version of yet, a huge deal makes sense. Don’t be shocked to see him land more in the Dee Ford or Chandler Jones realm of contract, which is the 5/$85M range.
In my opinion, the NY Giants should have Judon right at the top of their free agency plans. He’s only getting better, and although I’m speculating he’s likely a player that wants to make his first chance at cashing in count. The Ravens have tried to open up negotiations but they’ve made little progress which shows he’s intent on hitting the open market.
With Clowney and Ngakoue being pipe dreams, for the most part, Dave Gettleman should focus on this electric pass rusher that he could actually land. In this instance, I’d be fine with the NY Giants overpaying due to his untapped potential, the steady improvement and the dire need the team has in the edge-rushing department.