If Mark Andrews and Orlando Brown Jr. both sign contract extensions this offseason, it wouldn't be the first time they shared something in common.
They were teammates at Oklahoma. They were selected in the third round of the 2018 draft class. They have both been to the Pro Bowl.
Now Andrews and Brown are key pieces in the Ravens' talented young offense, part of a core group that General Manager Eric DeCosta wants to keep intact. While the salary cap will present challenges when it comes to the team's payroll, DeCosta said he was open to discussing long-term extensions with Andrews and Brown this offseason.
"We want to have the best offensive line we can," DeCosta said. "Orlando had a great year this year. Losing Ronnie Stanley was definitely a tough deal for the offensive line to handle. I think Orlando did a great job and I think the offensive line in general really battled versus some adversity this year.
"We are a tight end-centric offense. Mark Andrews, in my opinion, is one of the better tight ends in the entire NFL. He's a Pro Bowl tight end in my opinion. So we would be foolish to not want to try and keep him. Those discussions will start up at some point. Hopefully we can make progress and get some deals done."
Over the past two seasons, Andrews has averaged 61 catches and 776.6 yards per season while scoring 17 total touchdowns. He is the first Ravens tight end with multiple seasons of at least 700 yards receiving and at least seven touchdown catches.
Even though Andrews did not make the Pro Bowl in 2020 as he did in 2019, his role expanded, especially after Nick Boyle suffered a season-ending knee injury. In his first two seasons, Andrews played more than 40 snaps in a game just three times. In 2020, Andrews played at least 40 snaps in nine different games and enjoyed his best season as a blocker.
Brown made the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year, making the transition from right tackle to left tackle look seamless after Stanley, an All-Pro left tackle, went down with a season-ending ankle injury on Nov. 1. Brown played more offensive snaps (1,026) than any other Raven in 2020, and at age 24, he believes he's still evolving as a player.
"Personally, I'm still far from playing my best ball," Brown said following the playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. "And next year, I'm going to get there – or get closer. I'm very motivated to be the best me that I can be, as an individual, to help put us in the best position going forward."