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ExtremeRavens: The Sanctuary

Ravens Insider: Odell Beckham Jr. pens emotional farewell to Ravens; Patrick Queen embraces villain role as newest Steeler


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The first wave of NFL free agency has come and gone. The Ravens made a splash, signing four-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time league rushing champ Derrick Henry, and before that re-signing breakout defensive tackle Justin Madubuike for four more years to shore up what should again be one of the league’s better fronts.

They also had a few notable departures, including inside linebacker Patrick Queen signing with the AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. officially being released as expected then penning an apparent farewell on social media on Sunday.

Both departures were expected and unsurprisingly elicited fervid reaction by fans; and Queen and Beckham each chimed in as well, though with disparate emotions. Their responses and reactions to them perfectly captured the energy of this time of year, when comings and goings shape the future, meaningful football is months away and questions remain over how their voids will be filled.

“Swea on everything I appreciate the Flock more than yall could EVER imagine,” Beckham wrote, in part, on Instagram. “Did everything I could wit the opportunities I had.

“Thank you for the Vibez! To the City of Baltimore I [mess] wit yall forever FRRRR. And most importantly to my brothers over there this [stuff] a lifetime sentence, I love yall! BiggestTruzzz.”

Beckham, whose release last week was a cost-cutting move, was a pricey addition last season at $15 million. He was as much an enticement for quarterback Lamar Jackson to sign an extension as he was a gamble as he missed an entire season after tearing an ACL for a second time during Super Bowl 56 in February 2022.

The result was mixed — 35 catches for 565 yards and three touchdowns, only flashes of greatness and plenty of wisdom dispensed on teammates — and while a less expensive reunion was always unlikely, it now seems certain that it won’t happen. For one, Beckham, even at a projected $7 million, per Pro Football Focus, would be too costly for a team that is now about $13 million under the salary cap, has other needs and a full draft class still to come. For another, his signing mostly served its purpose.

Queen, meanwhile, has already provided bulletin board material and storylines for next season.

But the 24-year-old 2020 first-round draft pick’s words were also revealing.

“It’s not even that deep for us players until game week and y’all can’t understand the fact it wasn’t up to me,” Queen said on X, formerly known as Twitter, in part, in the wake of the news he would be joining the Steelers. “I gave y’all everything I had now when it’s time for me to do what I need y’all hurt bout everything I say. Go touch some grass and fill the void in y’all life.”

Then, 24 minutes later, he fired off another one, saying “Be careful what you wish for,” with a gif of Heath Ledger’s Joker from the 2008 film, “The Dark Knight.”

No one can blame Queen, who set a career high in tackles for a second straight year and was selected to his first Pro Bowl, for cashing in. The Ravens declined his fifth-year option last spring, drafted his potential replacement in Trenton Simpson and need to be judicious with their spending, especially with $91 million over the next four seasons remaining on All-Pro inside linebacker Roquan Smith’s deal.

Queen, meanwhile, got a three-year deal worth a reported $41 million, or about $13.7 million per year, but the final two years are club options. That makes Queen the fourth-highest-paid inside linebacker in the league in terms of average annual value, but there’s a nearly $4.5 million gap between him and the next highest-paid player, Tremaine Edwards of the Chicago Bears.

That Queen didn’t get more nor did he land in Seattle with former Ravens defensive coordinator and now Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald was at the very least interesting if not telling.

As for how the Ravens will fill the holes created by Beckham’s and Queen’s exits? Expect next month’s draft and the second week of free agency, which kicked off Monday, to provide the answers.

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