Many NFL headlines during this year’s offseason practices have been about who’s skipping the voluntary, and sometimes even mandatory, sessions.
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson are among players who opted against attending mandatory minicamp to make it clear they want new contracts.
Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley has a different approach.
The three-time Pro Bowler participated throughout the offseason program despite going into the fifth and final year of his rookie deal, and he told reporters after Tuesday’s minicamp practice that sitting out never crossed his mind.
“It’s just what I’m used to – coming to work, being here with my guys in the offseason, building new relationships with the rookies and the new players on the team – for me it’s just what I’ve been used to the last four years,” Mosley said.
Mosley, 25, has stressed on multiple occasions that he wants to stay in Baltimore long-term. The feeling is certainly mutual for the Ravens, as Mosley has established himself as one of the top young defenders in the league.
“I’m very proud of what he’s done throughout the course of the offseason and I’m very confident – and I think he feels the same way – that things will get taken care of,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said of contract negotiations.
Harbaugh praised Mosley for his approach on and off the field.
The Ravens have implemented scheme changes to go along with Wink Martindale’s ascension to defensive coordinator, and Mosley is viewed as the “quarterback of the defense.” Having the middle linebacker on the field throughout offseason practice is a critical piece of the transition.
“You want your decision makers out there practicing,” Harbaugh said. “[Not skipping practice] says he’s smart. I can’t say enough good things about who he is as a person. He is very smart. He understands the business side of it. He has patience in that sense. I think he gets really wise counsel from his parents.
“But he’s also a leader. He’s tough. He loves football. He understands that for us to be great, we need him out there. And we need him running the show. He’s doing that every day in practice and he’s doing a great job.”
Keeping Mosley in Baltimore long-term won’t come cheap. The player who set the market for top-end linebacker contracts was Carolina’s Luke Kuechly, who signed a five-year, $61.8 million deal with $34 million guaranteed, according to Spotrac.
It’s unclear exactly what kind of deal Mosley is seeking, but he can make the case that he’s one of the best linebackers in the game. He’s made the Pro Bowl in three of his first four NFL seasons, and is coming off a year where he registered 132 tackles, two interceptions, one sack and seven passes defensed.
If the two sides can’t reach a new deal before this season, Mosley will play this year under the $8.7 million fifth-year option that was part of his rookie deal. Beyond that is up to his agent and the Ravens to determine.
“I’ll leave that for my agent and upstairs,” Mosley said. “I’m just here for football.”