Eric DeCosta emphasized his desire to retain good, young players as a pillar of his vision as the Ravens' general manager. Thus, DeCosta expects linebacker C.J. Mosley to be in purple and black next year.
Mosley is headed for free agency in March, but the Ravens have reportedly been in contract talks with his agent.
"I certainly hope that C.J. is back. I believe in my heart that he will be," DeCosta said Wednesday in his first press conference as GM.
DeCosta said the Ravens are having discussions about Mosley now and that they have "several different strategies in place." DeCosta was specifically asked whether using the franchise tag is an option and said "everything is on the table."
Inside linebackers are grouped in with outside linebackers/pass rushers when determining their franchise tag cost. It's estimated that it will be in the $16-17 million range this year, which would be an expensive option to keep Mosley locked in Baltimore for one more season.
Instead, the Ravens would ideally like to come to a long-term agreement with Mosley.
"We're in the business of keeping our good football players," DeCosta said. "Talent wins in the NFL and he's a Pro Bowl linebacker. So we're going to do what we can to make sure that C.J. is back on the team."
Head Coach John Harbaugh certainly wants to see one of his defensive anchors back next season. Mosley has been a model of consistency and is one of the top-ranked unit's best players.
Mosley has gone to the Pro Bowl four of his five seasons. He didn't have as many splash plays as he would have liked last year, but he made the biggest one of all with a leaping interception in Week 17 against the Browns that sent the Ravens into the playoffs.
"There are limitations with the money, but C.J. wants to be back and we want him back," Harbaugh said. "So, I think that's a really good formula for a player coming back. I'm just not even going to entertain the possibility right now that that wouldn't happen."
Part of the discussion regarding Mosley is about how much money should be allocated to an inside linebacker in today's pass-happy league.
"That's all well and good unless somebody rushes for 250 yards against you," DeCosta said, also citing Mosley's game-winning interception.
"Ray Lewis got paid, deservedly. Good football players should be paid, and C.J. is a good football player. There's no doubt about it. You can't get caught up in these type of positions where guys get paid."
Over the years, the Ravens have seen too many excellent players go elsewhere when they didn't have enough salary cap space to re-sign them. Baltimore is in pretty good position this year and can be very flexible in clearing space.
"We want to keep our best players as long as we can. That's always going to be something that I want to do," DeCosta said.
"If there's one thing that I regret is that we've lost some good, young talent over the years just because we couldn't bring them back. We look at the numbers as being crazy even though the numbers really aren't crazy if that's what people are paying."