Eisenberg: Ravens' General Manager Change Deserves More Than a Yawn


The football public has responded with a virtual yawn since Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti revealed on Feb. 2 that Eric DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as the team's general manager after the 2018 season.

I understand the reaction, or lack of one.

Yes, it's bombshell news that the Ravens' only GM since they moved to Baltimore 22 years ago is stepping aside. But DeCosta has worked under Newsome for just as long and been groomed to take over – groomed by Newsome, who has said he plans to keep an office at the Under Armour Performance Center and continue to function in the team's decision-making apparatus.

Regime changes don't get much more seamless than that. It's fair to wonder how much, if at all, things actually will change.

Thus … yawns.

But I would be careful with dozing off on this development and assuming a DeCosta-led front office will be indistinguishable from the Newsome-led version that has become so familiar, having served as the franchise's backbone since 1996.

Right away, I can think of one colossal way things will be different. I'm sorry if this seems too obvious to point out, but someone else will be making the decisions.

That's not exactly a fine-print detail buried in the organizational blueprint. The GM shapes the roster, decides which prospects to draft, which veterans to cut, which free agents to sign, how much salary certain players warrant – huge stuff.

Newsome, 61, has filled the role for years, but just because DeCosta, 46, is Newsome-trained doesn't mean he'll adhere to the same principles once he's in charge. No one respects Newsome more, but DeCosta surely has his own opinions and ideas. That's* why* he's being promoted, because Bisciotti is impressed with how he thinks.

My two cents, DeCosta's opinions and ideas are bound to differ in some ways from Newsome's. How? We'll see. DeCosta might feel differently about Joe Flacco's contract/future or which positions need bolstering through the draft. Or he might share Newsome's vision on those issues but approach scouting somewhat differently, i.e., assign different weight to different measurables.

In any case, he is his own person, from a different generation, and one way or another, or perhaps in many ways, change is bound to occur.

A new man in charge could result in a different front office hierarchy, other people getting promoted and taking on different roles. Who knows, someone DeCosta likes from (gasp) outside the organization might be brought in.

As Newsome adapts to watching his protégé take over, I've seen it suggested that things could get tricky with the former boss looming over the shoulder of his replacement. But I don't expect any turbulence whatsoever on that front. The Ravens are Newsome's baby, an entity he has raised from infancy. He's much too loyal to create any issues.

In fact, I would submit that it's only a positive that he'll still be in the building, voicing opinions and wielding the respect he commands with players. He's never been anything less than a great recruiter.

Another reason for the yawning reaction to the pending change, I'm guessing, is how Bisciotti almost quietly slipped the news into a year-in-review press conference dominated by other subjects.

A team usually calls a press conference to announce a new GM. Given the job's importance, there's no way it isn't a big deal. But it didn't get the big-deal treatment on Feb. 2, receiving about as much attention as other current talking points such as empty seats, player protests, the makeup of the coaching staff, the catch rule, etc.

But don't be fooled by the casual treatment. Though it's only February, this might be the biggest Ravens news of 2018 in terms of long-term impact on the franchise.

Only one man has held the team's GM job until now – held it through six U.S. presidential election cycles, for the record. Now, in the not-too-distant future, another person will step in. That means change, inevitably, and quite possibly more than you think.

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