Eisenberg: C.J. Mosley's Situation Illustrates How Fast the NFL Can Change

Jets LB C.J. Mosley

It wasn't long ago, just 17 months, that the Ravens badly wanted to retain inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, regarding it as their top priority in free agency.

Coming off their first division-winning season in six years, they were bummed and then some when the New York Jets offered him a massive, barrier-busting contract in March 2019, leaving the Ravens no choice but to say farewell to one of their best-ever draft picks.

Even though they quickly pivoted and signed star safety Earl Thomas III to help fortify their defense, they regretted losing Mosley, a four-time Pro Bowl selection in his prime, knowing it was a setback that would resonate for awhile.

Sure enough, they sorted through four different starting inside linebackers last season while seeking to replace a semblance of what Mosley provided. Then they felt compelled to devote most of the top end of their 2020 draft to restocking his position, investing first-round and third-round picks.

In the end, though, the Ravens have gone from being bummed about losing Mosley to perhaps relieved in just 17 months. It's quite a surprise.

His tenure with the Jets hasn't gone well, to say the least. A groin injury limited him to 114 snaps over two games in his first season in New York in 2019. Now he has opted out of the 2020 season, citing "family health concerns" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bottom line, the Jets have invested a ton in Mosley but received almost nothing in return through the first two years of their marriage-by-mega-contract. Maybe the situation will work out better down the line, but as of now, let's just say the Ravens probably aren't experiencing remorse.

No one knows if Mosley would have suffered an injury last year had he stayed in Baltimore to lead the defense; he was a physical marvel and highly durable in his five years with the Ravens. And he can't be faulted for exercising his right to bypass a season over health concerns during a grave pandemic.

Nonetheless, the Ravens will gladly take where they are now on various fronts regarding Mosley's departure.

For starters, they haven't had any major contributors opt out of the 2020 season. They'll understand if anyone chooses to do so (the deadline for opting out is this week), but their increasingly young core has reported for training camp pretty much intact, while other teams have lost starters.

Is it just good fortune? Is it in any way attributable to the fact that the Ravens are coming off a thrilling season, with another forecast? There's no telling. Regardless, the Ravens will take it.

And while they missed Mosley last year, they did go 14-2 without him as they subbed out their familiar defense-centric mantra for a new life as a record-setting offensive powerhouse built around Lamar Jackson, the reigning league MVP.

Some of that big money that didn't go to Mosley could well flip to the other side of the ball in the coming years. All-Pro right tackle Ronnie Stanley is in the final year of his rookie deal. Jackson's contract will be a whopper.

Meanwhile, the Ravens have moved on to a new generation at Mosley's position with impressive rookies Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison. Their immediate development might be slowed by the absence of OTA practices and preseason games this year, but they're being counted on to man the middle of the defense soon enough.

It's certainly an affordable solution at inside linebacker with both guys on their rookie deals for the foreseeable future.

The Ravens loved Mosley while he was here, but they're in a different place now and feeling pretty good about how they've moved on.

It illustrates how the perspective on situations can change in the NFL, and I mean, in a hurry.

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