The Baltimore Ravens declined linebacker Patrick Queen's fifth-year option after inking Roquan Smith to a big contract extension, then drafted Trenton Simpson in the third round. Despite general manager Eric DeCosta insisting last month the team still wants Queen around long-term, signs indicate it could be the LB's final year in Charm City.
Queen said on Thursday he's not fretting about the future.
"It's a blessing in disguise, really," Queen told reporters. "You see guys go both sides of it and get paid either way. At the end of the day, I'm just focused on being the best teammate I can be, being the best player that I can be and just going out there and proving myself. Going out there and playing the game that I love to play at a high level."
With the Ravens already paying Smith and Lamar Jackson big money, there likely isn't a ton for another off-ball linebacker like Queen. If the $12.4 million fifth-year option was too rich for next season, anything other than a team-friendly deal would seem like a barrier to Queen returning.
However, perhaps with another improved season alongside Smith, Queen could hit the jackpot in free agency next offseason.
Queen said it took time to deal with emotions after the club declined his option, but after speaking with the Ravens' front office, he is motivated to have his best season in 2023.
"Just trying to get better," Queen said. "Obviously, Roquan is here now, getting an offseason with us. So, just trying to build that chemistry, trying to learn (defensive coordinator) Mike (Macdonald) more, trying to learn the defense more, trying to all of us get on the same page. That's my main focus right now."
Smith's arrival unlocked Queen's play down the stretch last season, and the Ravens are counting on the duo having similar success this season. Queen understands, in the long term, his play on the field will determine his next contract.
"I'm just focused on right now," he said. "I think if I take care of my business and do what I'm supposed to do, all that's gonna fall into place."