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Ravens put DT Justin Madubuike on franchise tag after career-high 13 sacks in 2023

The Baltimore Ravens put the franchise tag on Justin Madubuike on Tuesday after the defensive tackle finished his rookie contract with a breakout season in 2023.

The franchise tag for defensive tackles comes with a one-year cost of just over $22 million, although Madubuike and the Ravens can continue negotiating for a longer deal, with a preseason deadline of July 15.

“We were unable to agree on a contract extension with Justin before the deadline and will use the franchise tag,” Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement. “Justin is a great player and person, and we will continue to negotiate a long-term deal with him.”

The Ravens used the franchise tag on star quarterback Lamar Jackson last offseason, but were able to reach a long-term contract with him several weeks later.

Madubuike could have been one of the league's top free agents after he had 13 sacks last season, more than doubling his previous career high. He was a key part of a Baltimore defense that was one of the NFL's best.

Even with Madubuike under the franchise tag, the Ravens have a lot to do in the next couple of weeks. Linebacker Patrick Queen, edge rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., offensive linemen Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson and running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are all free agents.

The new league year — and the free-agent frenzy that accompanies it — officially starts March 13.

The Ravens drafted Madubuike in the third round in 2020. He became a regular starter in his second season, and his sack totals have increased every year.

Madubuike was a second-team All-Pro selection this past season and helped the Ravens have the league's best regular-season record and reach the AFC championship game.

Madubuike tied an NFL record in 2023 when he had at least a half-sack in 11 consecutive games. Before using the franchise tag on him, the Ravens faced the prospect of their top three sack producers — Madubuike, Clowney and Van Noy — all hitting the open market without restrictions. Only Baltimore and Miami had three players with at least nine sacks.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl