The Baltimore Ravens defense was the best in the NFL this season, only allowing 16.5 points per game, leading the league in sacks (60) and terrorized offenses all year.
A big part of Baltimore's success under Mike Macdonald this year was the superb form of defensive tackle Justin Madubuike.
In a contract year, Madubuike took the league by storm and established himself as one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the NFL. He led the Ravens in tackles for loss (12), quarterback hits (33), and sacks (13), all of which were career-highs.
But now, set to become a free agent, the time has come for Madubuike to cash in on his superb efforts this season. It is not known if the Ravens will franchise tag him or try and get a long-term deal done but either way, retaining the star defensive tackle is job one for Baltimore this offseason for CBS Sports.
"Set to cash in this spring in free agency, the Ravens have to make sure Madubuike doesn't get to that point," CBS Sports writes. "Madubuike has been a game-wrecker on the interior of the defensive line, accumulating 65 pressures, 13 sacks and 33 quarterback hits with a pressure rate of 13.4%. Just 26 years old, Madubuike's best years are ahead of him. He's the top priority for Baltimore's No. 1 scoring defense."
There has already been a change defensively for the Ravens as coordinator Mike Macdonald is now with the Seattle Seahawks, defensive line coach Anthony Weaver is now the defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, and defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson is headed to the Tennessee Titans.
Zach Orr is the new defensive coordinator for the Ravens, getting a promotion from linebackers coach, so there are a lot of moving parts.
But one that can't be moved is Madubuike. Baltimore must do everything in its power to retain him. By doing so it could mean the end for Patrick Queen as a Raven given he is set to hit free agency as well.
Madubuike was a star for the Ravens this year and after his efforts, Baltimore must open the checkbook and get a deal done. Whether that's via the franchise tag or a long-term deal, don't let him walk out that door.