The Ravens have agreed to terms with All-Pro defensive lineman Justin Madubuike on a four-year contract extension, the team announced Friday. The deal is worth a reported $98 million ($24.5 million annually) and includes $75.5 million total in guarantees and $53.5 million at signing, according to ESPN.

The guaranteed money and signing bonus are the most ever for an interior defensive lineman, according to Spotrac. Madubuike, 26, now trails only Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald ($31.7 million) in annual contract value.

“We are pleased to announce a four-year extension with Justin Madubuike,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement. “Justin is one of the best defensive tackles in the entire NFL and a cornerstone on our defense. We are thrilled for Justin and his family and equally happy for our fanbase. This is a great way to start the new league year!”

Madubuike had one of the Ravens’ best-ever seasons for a defensive lineman in 2023, finishing with a team-high 13 sacks, the most by any NFL interior lineman. An ascending talent at the position, Madubuike has boosted his pressure rate each of the past three seasons, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, from 5.1% to 6.5% to an elite 13.1%. He’s also been one of the Ravens’ most durable players and most consistent run defenders.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“It’s not surprising,” coach John Harbaugh said of Madubuike’s breakout season in December. “You saw it all through the years, but you saw it in training camp — we all did. He works hard every day. He’s humble, he’s determined, he’s confident, and he wants to be the best player he can be. He plays for his team. There’s nothing about him that isn’t an A-plus, and to see him have that kind of success, that’s awesome.”

The Ravens had placed the franchise tag on Madubuike on Tuesday, but his extension is expected to significantly lower his 2024 salary cap hit from $22.1 million, giving the team important cap relief ahead of the start of the new league year Wednesday. The Ravens have holes to fill at running back, edge rusher and along their offensive line.

With more than 20 contributors set to hit free agency, though, Madubuike was their most coveted re-signing. A third-round pick out of Texas A&M who fell down some teams’ draft boards in 2020 because of “character concerns,” Madubuike has been one of the Ravens’ hardest workers in recent seasons. In training camp, he would finish long, grueling practices by running gassers — the name of a sprint drill — with other defensive teammates.

“He was here all the time, put in all the work, always a great attitude,” former defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald said in October. “Anytime you’re watching one-on-ones, and the things that we’re stressing up front in terms of the pass rush, he was executing at a high level.

“We’re obviously seeing it come together now. It’s like, when someone says, ‘You’re an overnight success’ — it’s really like 10 years of hard work. I think that’s a good example with Justin.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The Ravens hoped to sign Madubuike to an extension before last season, but the two sides were unable to agree on a deal. Defensive lineman Broderick Washington’s three-year, $17.5 million extension, which he signed in August, was initially seen as a contingency plan in case Madubuike could not be retained. But his breakout year made him a priority in Baltimore.

“Everybody goes through a contract year; that’s how I see it,” Madubuike said in August of his approach. “You just put your head down and work, put your head down and work, put your head down and work. I feel like, the more you think about it, the more it becomes a distraction. If you just put your head down and work, I feel like everything is going to work itself out in the end.”

Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring.

More From The Banner