Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti spent an hour answering questions from Ravens PSL holders Wednesday night, a treat that many fans around the NFL don’t get from their owner.
Bisciotti is extremely knowledgeable about the inner-workings of the Ravens’ personnel decisions, the on-field product and larger organizational agenda.
Here are the highlights from last night’s call:
On the team's long-term future:
“Everything falls to Lamar [Jackson]. We believe in him. We believe he is going to be great. He desires to be great. So we will continue to build the team around his strengths and he will continue to work on his weaknesses.”
On Jackson’s short and long-term ability to stay healthy:
“We won six games to get into the playoffs and we did what we had to do. I think that you’ll be pleasantly surprised that Lamar is not going to be running 20 times a game. That is not what this offense is about.”
“We have a wonderful backup in [Robert Griffin III]. Honestly, I was as happy about that as anything we did in the offseason to lock him in. He has been a total pro and really worked well with Lamar. We’re building this offense that if he were to get hurt … I have more confidence in RG3 than I have in any backup quarterback that I can remember. … I’m very confident that Robert could do the same things that Lamar did if it indeed did come to pass.”
On having more team speed:
“We’re very excited about it. I’m as intrigued as you are with Lamar and very happy that we got the fastest wide receiver in the draft [Marquise “Hollywood” Brown] and fastest running back in the draft in Justice Hill in the fourth round. We realized I think as much as anybody else did that we had 11 eyes on Lamar near the end of the year, and I don’t think that, because of maybe a lack of speed, that we could spread those eyes out. They were focused on him, and in order to make him grow, I think we had to put some speed around him.”
Bisciotti also expressed his excitement about third-round wide receiver Miles Boykin, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds and had the fastest shuttle time of the Combine’s wide receivers while standing in at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds.
On the possibility of signing defensive tackle Gerald McCoy:
“I think that everybody out there has seen what he can do. I think he’s a bit of a game-wrecker, and I think, in this day and age, you need that kind of pressure from the inside. We’ve got some guys on the edge that are going to have to prove themselves. We’ve got two nose tackles, when you look at Michael [Pierce] and Brandon [Williams]. [McCoy is] clearly a three-technique. He brings something to the table that we don’t have.
“I’m pretty excited to have a guy like Gerald McCoy potentially adding to our defense. He came in, I had a nice opportunity to meet him in the hallway before we started our press conference today. Wonderful, well-mannered young man. Good family man, five children, was very excited about our facility, very excited about our defense. I hope McCoy wants us. That need goes both ways. I hope Gerald McCoy goes home and tells his wife that he needs to play for the Ravens. I think we could welcome him with open arms, and I think he could do some damage in the backfield this year.”
On losing Terrell Suggs in free agency:
“This is a business. We just announced Haloti Ngata into the Ring of Honor and we had to do without him four years ago. It comes down to money. I know we were close when we were trying to get Sizzle locked up. The Arizona Cardinals, they wanted him bad enough to outbid us. I’m going to miss him. I’m going to miss him on the practice field as much as I’m going to miss him during the games. But it was his choice. When he and I spoke after he signed with Arizona, he very much wanted to finish his career close to home. He’s travelled back and forth all these years, his kids are in school, and I think he thought that was very intriguing to spend one, or maybe two more years, [close to home]. But I have football guys to make that determination and I can’t go in there and start offering more than Eric DeCosta is willing to pay for them.”
Bisciotti related the situation to 2009, when Baltimore was close to losing Ray Lewis in free agency to the Dallas Cowboys. Ozzie Newsome didn’t budge from his offer and Lewis eventually chose to stay in Baltimore.
“Until the very minute Terrell took Arizona’s deal, I thought he would take less to stay here, and I was wrong. I’ve got nobody to steal my golf card anymore at practice. … I wished him well and I hope he does very well for them. I hope our young guys who weren’t getting as many snaps last year rise to the occasion. We have two good that are coming up into their third year [Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams] and I’m looking forward to seeing them on the field.”
On not using the franchise tag on C.J. Mosley:
“We’re cleaning up our salary cap, which has been going on since last year. Even in Ozzie’s last year, our goal was to try to flatten out some of these contracts so we had more money available.”
“From a timing standpoint, we really didn’t feel like we could give that kind of money dedicated to one year. We were also a little disheartened that we found that the number for inside linebackers was indeed going through the roof. I don’t want to say that it caught us flat-footed, but it was a shocking number and something that C.J. deserves. I think the world of him. But I would not have wanted to put a franchise tag on him and hold him here if we weren’t planning on offering that kind of money. When we got wind that it was going to be that high, we thought it was the right thing to do to let him sign with the Jets. We wish him all the luck in the world. We have not used the franchise tag in an awful long time and I kind of would like to avoid doing it as much as possible.”
On the wide receiver competition:
“The snaps are going to go to somebody. We’re going to throw the ball and they’re going to catch it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chris Moore be a breakout candidate. I’m really looking forward to seeing Willie [Snead IV] in his second year with us and Chris Moore really break out and be the players we think they can be. I’d be lying if I said I was counting on either one of our new wide receivers to be Rookie of the Year. I just hope that they stay healthy, they learn from the vets and they grow and they contribute enough that their confidence goes through the roof so they are the stars we hope they are in Year 2.”
On upgrading the offensive line later this offseason:
“Right player, right price, as Ozzie Newsome always said. I do think that the kid we got, [Ben] Powers, has looked good. We really liked his tape coming out of college and we were surprised that he was still there in the fourth round. I think that Coach Harbaugh is very encouraged with [Matt] Skura. I think we graded out very well as an offensive line [last year].”
“I’d be much more concerned if our All-Pro [Marshal Yanda] decided that he was going to call it a career. I kind of looked at that as our upgrade because, honestly, I thought that Marshal was pretty close to deciding it was a career. When we were able to get him not only back in but extend him another year. I don’t think there are a lot of teams that have a guy like Marshal and those two bookend tackles in [Orlando Brown Jr.] and Ronnie [Stanley]. I think that’s a really good start. I just think that, overall, they played really well together and continuity in a line is more important than anything. We have a lot of guys to compete with Skura and [James] Hurst. Maybe they’re the odds-on favorites to start the year, but we have a lot of young guys. I certainly think we would be willing to [add someone else], but I don’t think we need an average vet. It would have to be something significant like a Gerald McCoy who surprises you.”
On remaining team needs:
“Honestly, I’m not dying to spend our last dollars. We do have some salary cap space, maybe a little more than we’ve had in the past at this time of year, but I don’t think that there is a need on our field. I think we’re pretty happy with our young inside linebackers and pretty happy with getting those outside rushers. Getting Pernell [McPhee] back, I was very excited about, and Shane Ray, so far … Denver probably feels like he’s underperformed, but he’s a healthy 26-year old now; he’s had wrist injuries and I think it really slowed down his development.”
“I don’t see any needs right now on our team. I think we could line up and play.”
On Tim Williams’ ability to emerge:
“Sometimes it’s hard for guys to crack our lineup. With losing T-Sizzle, [Williams] really has an opportunity to do that. He’s not as big as a guy like Sizzle; he’s going to have to be just that, a situational edge rusher. I’m really pleased with what Wink Martindale does with our defense and he’s worked with him for two years. He has a chance to prove himself. I’m really glad that we got competition in. He’s going to see other pros.”
“I expect to see a lot of competition for those two, and sometimes three, pass rushers in our system. I loved [Williams] in college and I think that he hasn’t had enough chances to show himself. He’ll get them now and in the preseason, and the best players are going to play.”
On the possibility of Baltimore hosting an NFL Draft:
“I didn’t really have a chance to look at it. It’s something I can probably put on [President] Dick Cass and have him look at it now that they’re committed to having it move around. I thought Tennessee did a fabulous job, I thought Philadelphia did a great job. I would love to look into it. I don’t know what the criteria is going to be and where we could have it, but in order for us to consider it we would have to get the NFL down here and find out what kind of venues they’re looking for. If it’s something our fans would want and with the success I’ve seen in the last few years, I would absolutely love it. I think we have a better chance at getting that than a Super Bowl. It’s something that we’ll put our heads together on over here and at least inquire about going forward.”
On the hype surrounding the Browns:
“I think Cleveland has a lot going for them. … They certainly on paper are a lot better team. I was fortunate enough to meet Baker Mayfield about six weeks ago in the Bahamas. He was more interested in talking about Mark Andrews and Zeus – and this was before we got his wide receiver [Marquise Brown]. He certainly showed himself to be a legit pro quarterback and we’re going to have our hands full.”