The Ravens have two Pro Bowl defensive players who are pending free agents – defensive tackle Justin Madubuike and inside linebacker Patrick Queen.
General Manager Eric DeCosta did not get into specifics about the status of negotiations or whether the Ravens will use the franchise tag on either player.
"Not to revisit the Lamar (Jackson) negotiation, but one of the great things about that negotiation was I learned that it's beneficial to just not talk about things," DeCosta said during Friday's end-of-season press conference. "There is a value sometimes to not really showing your cards.
"We'll have all those decisions made at some point coming soon. We don't have a lot of time. We'll talk about it. We'll have those decisions made in the coming weeks, we'll know what's best for us to do. We haven't just started thinking about it, obviously."
Madubuike led all NFL interior linemen in sacks (13.0) with a career-high 56 tackles including 12 for loss. Queen had a career-high 133 tackles and has played in every game during his four seasons with Baltimore.
Queen was a first-round pick in 2020 while Madubuike was a third rounder, and DeCosta is happy to see two selections from that Ravens draft class become premier players.
"Justin had a great year, as did Patrick Queen," DeCosta said. "We'll have a good plan in place for those guys.
"Patrick had an amazing season. I love Patrick, he's one of my favorite guys on the team. He's put himself in great position to potentially hit the market and see what his value is. His future's extremely bright. He's one of the best inside linebackers in the league, credit to him. I'm very happy for him, very happy for his family. He's a special player and a special person."
With 23 pending unrestricted free agents this offseason, DeCosta said it will be a "busy" offseason and he's already been having discussions with some of the Ravens' free agents.
"We've started talking to agents [and] looking at the crop of free agents that are out there, but mostly [looking] at our guys, and who can we bring back, and what's that contract going to look like, and what will those long-term ramifications be, as well," DeCosta said. "At some point, you get to the point where you have to play with who you have, and you have to draft well, and you have to hit on players, and we've done that the last couple of years. We've seen the emergence of a lot of younger players, and that's going to continue."
Eric DeCosta Is Confident Ravens Can Withstand Loss of Joe Hortiz
DeCosta said the front office is prepared to adjust after former Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz left to become general manager of the Chargers this week. The Ravens still have a core group of front office personnel and scouts who work well together, and many have been with the organization for years.
The Ravens already had Director of Player Personnel George Kokinis in place. Kokinis has been with the team since the very beginning in 1996 except for one year when he was the general manager of the Cleveland Browns (2009).
"As far as replacements, we have a great staff," DeCosta said. "One of the luxuries I have as a GM is that we've all been together for a very, very long time. You have someone like George Kokinis, who's been here forever, probably the best pro personnel guy in the league. That's how we find these guys like the (Kyle) Van Noys, (Jadeveon) Clowneys, (Arthur) Maulets and the (Ronald] Darbys). Guys like (Assistant Director of Player Personnel] Mark Azevedo and our (Director of College Scouting) David Blackburn.
"It'll be hard for me, personally, just because I really value Joe as an evaluator and as a person and as a friend, but I think we have the people to kind of take care of the process for us."
DeCosta knows it will be different during draft night not having Hortiz in the war room and beyond.
"Joe and I worked together for 26 years, and for probably the last 15 years he sat next to me during the draft," DeCosta said. "Great evaluator, great consensus builder, he did an amazing job the last five years especially working with the scouts. He's just a great guy, he's one of my best friends. I'm very happy for him and Jennifer and their kids – their boys – it's a special family."
John Harbaugh Gives Health Updates on Morgan Moses, Odafe Oweh, Marcus Williams
The Ravens did not suffer any major injuries during the AFC Championship game and have few players who will have offseason surgery, according to Head Coach John Harbaugh.
"There's no big major injuries at this point," Harbaugh said. "We do have guys coming off major injuries that will be rehabbing like (David) Ojabo and some other guys. "
Harbaugh said outside linebacker Odafe Oweh has undergone thumb surgery and will be full speed in six-to-eight weeks.
Starting safety Marcus Williams, who played through a pectoral injury, will not undergo surgery according to Harbaugh.
Starting right tackle Morgan Moses must decide whether to have surgery after playing with a shoulder injury.
"He doesn't have to have it, but he might want to have it," Harbaugh said. "He's got to make that decision, performance-wise and life-wise."
Running Back Room Has Questions to Sort Out
J.K. Dobbins and Keaton Mitchell suffered season-ending knee injuries in 2023, while Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Dalvin Cook are set to become free agents. That leaves the Ravens will plenty of questions to sort out at running back heading into the offseason.
"Obviously, we do have some free agents," DeCosta said. "It was a challenge this year with J.K.'s injury, which was unfortunate, terrible for us, and then with Keaton.
"We'll assess the market, we'll talk to those guys, we'll try to see where things lie with Gus and J.K, two guys have a lot of respect for, two outstanding players. We'll look at the draft. We'll look at free agency. That's kind of a position like offensive line – we've got to have some good running backs. I think we do, but part of that is predicated on how guys come back from injuries. But I know we've got a great running backs coach (Willie Taggart) and we'll be ready to go."
One key member of the running back room, Justice Hill, is under contract for next season. Hill had his best NFL season averaging 4.6 yards per carry (84 attempts, 387 yards, three touchdowns), while catching a career-high 28 passes for 206 yards and a touchdowns. Hill is under contract for next season.
"I'm glad we have Justice on a two-year deal," DeCosta said. "Justice was really one of the unsung heroes on the team this year down the stretch. The guy had a phenomenal season."