Skip to main content

Eisenberg: What We Learned From the State of the Offseason Press Conferences

Left: HC John Harbaugh; Right: GM Eric DeCosta
Left: HC John Harbaugh; Right: GM Eric DeCosta

Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh both gave what amounted to "state of the offseason" press conferences Tuesday. Here's what I learned:

+ I wouldn't lose sleep over whether the Ravens are going to be able to sign quarterback Lamar Jackson to a large contract extension before his rookie deal expires after the 2022 season. The sides are already talking. The relationship is positive. Although Jackson wasn't available to provide his version of things, DeCosta depicted conversations between the two that sound indisputably healthy. Asked about the possibility of contention seeping in, which can happen, Harbaugh said, "That's not the nature of our relationship." The biggest obstacle in any deal of this magnitude is the team's willingness to fork over so much money, so it was a good sign when DeCosta compared signing his franchise quarterback to walking into a high-end car dealership. "You're not going to get much of a discount," he explained, which means the decision to walk into the dealership in the first place really is the decision to buy the car. Sounds as if the Ravens have already walked in. "I'm very confident it will be worked out," Harbaugh said.

+ The relationship between the organization and tackle Orlando Brown Jr. isn't as bad as some imagine. DeCosta said he and Brown have had "a couple of conversations" since Brown tweeted that he wants to play left tackle, effectively signaling that he might be happier elsewhere since the Ravens already have a left tackle, Ronnie Stanley. It doesn't sound as if harsh words were spoken between Brown and DeCosta. DeCosta sounded as if he could relate to Brown wanting to fulfill his vision as a left tackle because DeCosta also had a similar vision when he was a youngster, wanting to be an NFL GM, and that vision became a reality. As DeCosta explained it, Brown also recognizes the Ravens currently hold the cards in their poker game. "He is under contract. He understands that … we'll do what's best for Orlando and what's best for the Ravens," DeCosta said. It sounds as if he'll gladly listen to whatever trade offers roll in, but if they aren't eye-popping, Brown could easily end up playing right tackle in Baltimore in 2021. No one know how the situation will play out, but when asked if Stanley would be fully recovered from his ankle injury in time to play in 2021, Harbaugh said he hoped so, but if not, the team has a left tackle. That's Brown.

+ One word can make a lot of difference. David Culley was the Ravens' passing game coordinator before he left to become the Houston Texans' head coach. (Culley was also the Ravens' assistant head coach and wide receivers coach.) Keith Williams, new to Harbaugh's staff in 2021, is the Ravens' pass game specialist. The difference? Williams isn't coordinating that element of the offense. He'll focus on his specialty – route running. "He has a specific lane, precision and fundamentals, the way wide receivers run routes, get off the ball, beat press (coverage)," Harbaugh said. Williams is such an expert in those skills that several of the NFL's leading receivers have come to his home in Omaha during the offseason to receive his counsel. The Ravens basically bought his franchise, hiring him to counsel their guys on route running fulltime. (Tee Martin is the new receivers coach.) "It's a unique role. I don't know of any other staff in the league that has it," Harbaugh said. It will be interesting to monitor how much difference one word makes in 2021.

+ While the Ravens surely are looking for ways to create salary-cap savings that could be used to address their needs, they aren't going to undercut one of their strengths to do so. DeCosta said cutting veteran defensive lineman Brandon Williams isn't among their options. "He played good football last year. It's hard to find guys like him," DeCosta said. "He plays hard, he plays good. Yes, I expect him to be on the team" in 2021.

+ As far as aspects of pro football that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted, the Ravens are so confident in their scouting operation that they aren't worried about that process being virtual again in 2021. "I think we'll do a great job with that," DeCosta said. What they ARE worried about is the salary cap going down for the first time due to decreased revenues league-wide. "There's a very, very uneasy feeling. Everyone is trying to get a sense of this new climate; how to adjust, how to pivot and how best to survive," DeCosta said. It's probably just a temporary situation, as league revenues are expected to soar when new network television contracts are finalized. But the cap wouldn't be impacted until next year.

+ The upset of the day was a full 25 minutes passed in DeCosta's session before he was asked a question about wide receivers, normally a front-and-center issue. The delay was such a surprise that DeCosta noted it. I suspect it was due to the fact that the Ravens pretty obviously aren't targeting any of the big-name receivers who might be available in free agency starting next week. But that doesn't mean they'll neglect to address the position. Harbaugh said he was in the middle of evaluating an assortment of receivers, from potential free agents to the draft class. DeCosta said he had a "pretty good idea" of the kinds of receivers he wants to add. My prediction is one reasonably affordable free agent and a Day 2 draft pick join the group.

Related Content