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Breakout DL Justin Madubuike on impending free agency: Baltimore is 'home' but 'business is business'

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Justin Madubuike had a breakout season in Baltimore that led him to Orlando, Florida.

Now the first-time Pro Bowler is set up for a lucrative second career contract, but he'll ultimately have to decide whether he re-signs with the Ravens or is lured elsewhere.

For now, Madubuike's heart belongs to Baltimore, but he's mindful of weighing his options.

"In terms of Baltimore, man, that's home," the defensive tackle told Friday at Pro Bowl Games practice. "But, you know, business is business, and that side is going to take care of itself."

When it comes to negotiations and any progress made, Madubuike is simply letting "my agent worry about that."

A third-round pick in 2020, Madubuike played out the final season of his rookie contract in 2023, earning a base salary of $2.74 million. He'll likely command seven times that next year as his production warrants him joining the elite moneymakers among defensive linemen, who earn in the neighborhood of $20 million per season.

Madubuike steadily improved over his first three seasons, but exploded in his fourth.

His 13 sacks were more than his career total heading into the year and led all NFL defensive tackles. His 33 QB hits were tied for third in the league. And his 11 straight games with at least 0.5 sacks tied the longest streak by a defensive tackle since 1982 when the statistic was first recorded.

As the Ravens collected an AFC North title, the conference's top seed and advanced to the conference title game, Madubuike rounded into a consistent havoc wreaker on defense.

"Put up some great numbers, made my first Pro Bowl, All-Pro, and just very, very thankful," he said of his season.

He's all smiles thinking about what's next, confident there are more seasons like 2023 ahead.

"I'm excited for the future, I feel like this [Pro Bowl] isn't the last one I'm going to be in," he said.

Baltimore's prospects of running back their 2023 success or exceeding it could be massively impacted by whether the Ravens can bring back their burgeoning DL star.

Despite the pain of a bitter loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Madubuike can look back fondly on the season as a whole. And if everything works out, he can see himself looking ahead fondly on what's in store for Baltimore.

"We had a helluva year," he said. "We were actually a special group. This was a special group. We had a lot of guys that not only loved playing with each other in terms of just football, but we loved just being around each other. Hopefully, we can keep as much guys as we can, but it's a business, people gotta go where they gotta go. It was a special team. We should've went all the way. We came up short, it stings."

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