A bitter pill to swallow for many fans of the Baltimore Ravens: former Raven Matthew Judon is having a career year with the New England Patriots, and the Ravens could have kept him all this time. Prior to moving to New England, Matt Judon made a name for himself with the Ravens, as he spent the last five seasons in Baltimore contributing to Baltimore’s elite level of defense. However, on March 19, 2021, Judon signed a four-year $56 million contract with the Patriots, and he has made his impact directly and instantaneously. So far this season, Judon has logged a career-high 11.5 sacks, a clear indicator of Judon’s continued stellar defensive play.

Judon’s MVP-level talent this season could have remained within Baltimore, but the Ravens management declined to both match the Patriots’ offer, or make a counter-offer—effectively forcing Judon’s hand in free agency. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports delves into the process in which Judon signed with the Patriots:

Judon’s heart was in Baltimore, with him telling many Ravens teammates he did not want to leave, loving his time with the organization, and emerging as a team leader and top performer since being selected in the fifth-round out of Grand Valley State in 2016. And, sources said, Judon gave the Ravens the opportunity to match the Patriots’ offer or make a last counter-offer of some sort; management declined, sighting a need to reallocate resources to other needs and positions, and Judon accepted New England’s offer and thrust himself into mastering Bill Belichick’s system.

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This is definitely a tough deal for the Ravens, as they have to sit and watch Judon shine in New England. As the Patriots and the Ravens are not slated to meet in the regular season, Matt Judon and the Baltimore Ravens are safe from any prospect of an awkward collision course—save for the possibility of a playoff showdown, of course.