Instant reaction: Ravens extend Justin Tucker through 2023

Ravens fans got some great pre-draft news on Wednesday morning when it was reported that Baltimore will give Justin Tucker a four-year contract extension. The new deal keeps Tucker in Baltimore through 2023.

Tucker is now the highest paid kicker in NFL history and if you know anyone who has a problem with that, I suggest you stop associating yourself with them as soon as possible. Tucker has been regarded as the best kicker in the league for years by the media. That praise is well-deserved as he holds the best field goal percentage among all kickers in NFL history. Since entering the league in 2012, Tucker has made over 90% of his field goal attempts and he’s only missed one extra point.

Ravens fans know this percentage isn’t padded with easy chip shots. Tucker has drilled field goals from 50+ yards on a consistent basis and delivered many game winners, including a 47-yard field goal in double OT that sent the Ravens to the AFC championship game and a 61-yard bomb against Detroit in 2013.

This new contract is certainly welcomed by Ravens fans but it does come at an unexpected time with the Ravens just a day away from entering the 2019 draft. Outside of the timing, there really isn’t anything surprising about the deal.

Since taking over as general manager, Eric DeCosta has made it a priority to extend players before they make it to the final year of their contracts. Tucker becomes the third Ravens player to do so this off season.

It’s not always possible to get a deal done early, but it does make a lot of sense for players like Tucker, Tavon Young and Nick Boyle. If the Ravens had waited until any of these players contracts were up, they might not have been able to afford keeping them. There are plenty of desperate teams in the NFL that will offer these guys extremely large deals that the Ravens simply cannot match. We saw it happen this off season with C.J. Mosley and Za’Darius Smith. The Ravens would have loved to keep both of those players in Baltimore but matching the contracts offered by New York and Green Bay would have been foolish.

Tucker is not like Young or Boyle. He is the best at his position in the league and the Ravens are smart for not letting him walk into free agency a year from now. Even if Tucker was 100% dead set on staying in Baltimore, free agency would have inflated his price tag and forced the Ravens to shell out more money to retain him. When you have the best player at a particular position, you don’t hesitate to lock them up before they hit free agency.

Image credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images

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