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Eric DeCosta's Take on Pending Free Agents And Other Roster Decisions

(From left to right) S Chuck Clark, CB Marcus Peters, LB Patrick Queen, and G Ben Powers
(From left to right) S Chuck Clark, CB Marcus Peters, LB Patrick Queen, and G Ben Powers

The Ravens' top item on the offseason to-do list is reach an agreement with Lamar Jackson.

However, there are many other important roster decisions ahead, and General Manager Eric DeCosta spoke to several at Thursday's press conference.

Here's a recap of some of the top storylines:

Will Marcus Peters be re-signed?

Peters is a pending unrestricted free agent. He had a salary-cap hit of $15.5 million last season, per, and returned from last year's knee injury to play in 13 games with one interception.

DeCosta: "I have crazy respect for Marcus; one of my favorite guys on the team – tremendous competitor. At some point, Marcus and I will probably speak. His agent, Doug Hendrickson, is one of the best in the business as well. Regarding the corner position, we're a team that always feels like you can never have enough good corners. So, I would expect that at some point in free agency and/or the Draft, we'll try to augment that position.

"I think we've got some good, young, promising players for sure. Jalyn Armour-Davis, we drafted 'Pepe' [Damarion Williams] this year as well; both of those guys we think have bright futures. Brandon Stephens was playing his best football late in the year, and we're excited about his progression and growth as well. We had some other guys this year that stepped up, too, as well – Daryl Worley is a guy that played well; he's a free agent. Kevon Seymour. Kyle Fuller – a free agent – played really well Week 1 before his knee injury unfortunately. There's always the potential that some of those guys could return as well."

Will Patrick Queen's fifth-year option be exercised, and could he still be signed to an extension?

Patrick Queen had a breakout third season, as he predicted. He was already playing well, and the arrival of Roquan Smith only helped Queen's game go to another level. The Ravens have to decide whether to pick up Queen's fifth-year option for 2024 by May 1.

DeCosta: "Yes, we were really excited by the way Patrick played this year. We think he made a jump. He showed play-making ability, leadership. He just really, really over the course of the season became the player that we kind of envisioned him being. Specifically speaking to the fifth-year option, I'm probably not prepared to make that announcement at this point."

"Does [Smith's deal] make it difficult to sign [Queen] long term? If he's a great player, we'll find a way to make it work. If he's playing at a high level, we want to keep as many good players as we can. So, I would never rule out right now signing a player two years from now, potentially. He's a good player. I think we have the best two young inside linebackers – the combo, the tandem, it's exciting – in football. They make our defense a problem for other teams, and it's something that is going to cause a lot of teams problems moving forward. So, I think we're in a great position there."

Will Ben Powers be priced out?

Powers is another pending unrestricted free agent who had a breakout fourth season starting every game at left guard. He earned the offensive line's award for the most MVP games. DeCosta said Powers had a "phenomenal season" and "probably improved as much as anybody on our team."

DeCosta: "Ben is a guy who we'd love to keep. My feeling is Ben is probably going to be sought after in free agency, based on the way he played this year. We would never close the door on a player like Ben. We would always want to keep as many good players as we can. We'll have discussions at some point with Ben. I'm just really happy and proud of Ben for the way that he played and the way that he's really come on and matured over his time with us. I'm very happy for him and his family. They put themselves in a great position, and he's a player that I think is going to do really well."

Will Chuck Clark stay?

Clark once again proved to be a valuable and trusted leader in the secondary, starting every game and having one of his best seasons. However, he has a salary-cap hit of $6.3 million, per, next season that leaves him unsure of his future. It remains to be seen if first-round pick Kyle Hamilton, who blossomed over the course of his rookie year while playing a versatile slot role, ultimately steps into that spot.

DeCosta: "Chuck had a phenomenal season, and we haven't made any decisions about any players right now; the season just ended. Again, we'll make those decisions later on. Chuck has proven to be an outstanding safety in this league. He has been probably one of the most consistent guys we've had. He's probably started as many games as anybody over the last, what, three or four years? He's been a great [special] teams player in the past; he's an excellent safety. He's tough, he's a competitor, he's a leader, and he's a player that we're very proud of."

Will Justin Houston and/or Calais Campbell return?

Houston made it clear he intends to keep playing while Campbell is mulling retirement again. He's under contract for another season but carries a $9.4 million salary-cap hit in 2023. DeCosta said he met with both veteran players before they left town for the offseason.

"[I have] a lot of respect for both those guys, the way they played this year and just their whole careers, really, and the respect that they command in the locker room and on the field. Those are the kind of guys you want to have on your team, those veteran presences who play well and really back it up by how they play. Those are the kind of guys you want to add."

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