That’s 49 years of combined veteran leadership that won’t be on the Ravens roster next year.
So who will be the leader in Baltimore’s locker room?
Lewis, who now works as an ESPN analyst, weighed in Wednesday afternoon.
“Leadership wise, how do you replace this and how do you replace that?” Lewis said. “I think [General Manager] Ozzie [Newsome] does a great job in what he does. At the same time, I believe he has his work cut out for him. But I think he’s up for the challenge.”
Lewis said he couldn’t point to a particular player.
“Right now I could not answer that question for you and be confident with saying, ‘The next person is this, the next person is that,’” he said. “It’s really hard to replace … I was a cornerstone there for 17 years.”
Lewis said he earned his chair as leader not only through his play on the field, but by virtue of his experience with the team. Other players knew he was committed to the Ravens and that they were committed to him.
But it all began in 1996 when the Ravens selected Lewis in the first round. And the linebacker feels Baltimore may have to find leadership from the draft once again.
“Now you’ll have to find that all over again,” Lewis said. “You’ll have to find a player to invest that much in, to say, ‘OK, take over our team, take over our locker room and control what the chemistry should be like in here.’ I don’t know if you can find that through the draft. Hopefully you can.”
If the Ravens don’t find their next leader in the draft, other candidates include quarterback
Lewis said he will continue to be around the Ravens program even though he’s now working in the media, so Baltimore could potentially call on him from time-to-time.
But it won’t be the same as having him in the building studying film and showing players how to be a professional through his work ethic and private conversations.
Lewis has been watching the Ravens’ offseason from afar, and said he was texting back and forth with linebacker Paul Kruger before he decided to sign with the Cleveland Browns. He said the shake-up in Baltimore reminded him of 2001 when the Ravens dropped quarterback Trent Dilfer.
“I just didn’t agree with the moves that we made,” Lewis said, referring to 2001.
Lewis has taken notice of the Ravens’ free-agent departures this offseason, and gave his take on what the team should do now.
“[The Ravens] do have a lot of young pieces there and hopefully they are going to build around that through free agency and then go on through the draft,” he said.