Commitments to Wink Martindale and Greg Roman a 'Big Deal'
Since taking over as General Manager less than 14 months ago, Eric DeCosta has made a concerted effort to retain the Ravens' top talent. That includes the coaching staff.
According to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, the Ravens reportedly signed Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale to a three-year contract, making him one of the highest-paid defensive coordinators in the NFL. The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec also reported that Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman recently agreed to a contract extension.
"The Ravens deciding to reward their coordinators with extensions is a big deal for a young team that has a window to win it all," Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler wrote.
Martindale and Roman were integral to the Ravens' success last season. After losing significant defensive talent in free agency, Martindale's aggressive, blitz-heavy scheme was effective for the No. 4 ranked defense.
"It's a well-deserved contract for Martindale, who has been at the forefront of the team's defensive success over the past two seasons," Baltimore Beatdown’s Frank Platko wrote.
Under Roman, the Ravens' offensive "revolution" took the league by a storm. They averaged over 200 passing yards and 200 rushing yards per game, finishing as the No. 2 ranked offense behind the Dallas Cowboys.
The commitment to their coordinators is important and shows how much the Ravens value success on both sides of the ball.
With success comes opportunities, and other teams took notice of what Martindale and Roman accomplished. Both coordinators interviewed for NFL head coaching jobs this offseason. Roman was also linked to the University of Colorado's head coaching vacancy before the school hired Miami Dolphins Wide Receivers Coach Karl Dorrell.
Zrebiec noted that new contracts likely wouldn't stop Martindale or Roman from pursuing opportunities down the road, but the Ravens have both of their coordinators reportedly under contract past the 2020 season.
That consistency is key.
"The fact that [Owner] Steve Bisciotti and company know how important their coordinators are is important," Schisler added. "The Ravens have struggled to find the right combination at offensive and defensive coordinator. Harbaugh finally has the right coaching staff around him. It could be an important factor in the 2020 season as the Ravens are certainly contenders."
Lamar Jackson Is the Ravens' Biggest Bargain
Jackson's rise to MVP stardom puts the Ravens in a unique position. They have a window to build around one of the NFL's most talented quarterbacks while he barely affects their payroll.
Jackson's cap hit is just $2.5 million next season, and he was named the team's biggest bargain by Bleacher Report.
"Uh, more than 500 NFL players have higher average annual salaries than the reigning MVP," BR’s Brad Gagnon wrote. "That includes at least nine backup quarterbacks. And Jackson still has two years remaining on his rookie deal, which means the Ravens have control over the 23-year-old superstar for at least three more years.
"The fact that one of the game's most dominant players will take up barely one percent of Baltimore's payroll in 2020 could make it easier for the Ravens to remain competitive for years to come. They have the salary-cap space to keep Judon and spend some money on the open market."
Having more than $30 million in cap space this offseason allows the Ravens to address more important needs outside of the quarterback position.
But the notion that the Ravens have a five-year window to build around Jackson's rookie contract isn't necessarily correct. If he mirrors similar production to what we saw last season, Jackson will be in line for a contract extension in the next year or two.
"[I]f Jackson keeps it up at his current rate, he could command a contract with an average annual salary in excess of $50 million in a couple of years," Gagnon says. "So, the Ravens might want to save up for that day."
For now, DeCosta and the front office will take advantage of the luxury.
Two Ravens Make PFF's All-Combine Team of the 2010s
NFL combine performance isn't a direct indicator of success, but it can offer teams a glimpse at a draft prospect's skill set. Over the years, we've seen some incredible athletic feats, some by current Ravens.
Robert Griffin III and Myles Boykin were named to Pro Football Focus’ All-Combine Team of the 2010s.
Coming out of Baylor as the Heisman Trophy winner in 2011, Griffin's speed was on full display in Indy.
"RG3's 4.41 40-yard dash was a full tenth of a second faster than any other quarterback over the past decade (Tyrod Taylor, 4.51)," PFF wrote. "Guys like Jackson and Kyler Murray could have been some serious competition here, but neither chose to run in Indy."
Griffin added a 39-inch vertical jump and a 120-inch broad jump, eventually landing with the Washington Redskins as the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Even at 30-years-old, he's still one of the few quarterbacks who can mimic Jackson's skill set.
Boykin had one of the top performances of any receiver at the combine last year. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, jumped 43.5 inches on the vertical jump, and 140 inches on the broad jump.
Boykin's performance was even more impressive because of his size at 6-foot-4. That caught the eye of the Ravens, who drafted the big-bodied receiver in the third round.
"Guys like John Ross and Marquise Goodwin may have stolen the show with their 40s, but they offered little else," PFF wrote. "[Chris] Conley and Boykin were the total package across the board with size, speed, explosiveness and agility."
Five Draft Prospects to Watch at the Combine
We've talked about some of the combine's top performers over the years, but who should Ravens fans be watching this week? The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer listed five potential draft targets for the Ravens who will be on display.
Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr.: "Current draft projections have him unlikely to be available after the first 25 picks, but the combine could shake up his stock," Shaffer wrote. "The imposing 6-foot-2, 220-pound Shenault is just an inch shorter and 8 pounds lighter than Metcalf's 2019 combine measurements, and he might just as easily dazzle with his speed in the 40-yard dash.
Utah EDGE Bradlee Anae: "The Hawaii native's sack total improved all four years at Utah, and he dominated at the Senior Bowl, finishing with three sacks and forcing Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts into an interception," Shaffer wrote. "According to Pro Football Focus, Anae posted a pass-rush win rate of 21.8% last season, the best in the Pac-12, and 57 pressures, fifth most in the FBS among edge defenders."
Oklahoma DT Neville Gallimore: "While Gallimore has been mentioned as a possible late-first-round selection, most analysts have him rated as a second-round talent," Shaffer wrote. "At the combine, he could win over a lot of skeptics … He improved significantly as a pass rusher during his redshirt senior season, and his hustle and power are considerable assets."
Wisconsin ILB Zack Baun: "He finished eighth in the FBS with 19½ tackles for loss last season — just 1½ fewer than Ohio State star Chase Young, albeit in two more games — and improved on a 2½-sack junior season with 12½ in 2019," Shaffer wrote. "... With his lateral mobility and processing ability, Baun could convince some linebacker-needy teams at the combine that he's deserving of a first-round grade."
Fresno State OL Netane Muti: "An Achilles injury forced the Tonga native to miss his true-freshman season in 2016 and most of his 2018 season," Shaffer wrote. "Last year, he started three games for the Bulldogs before suffering a season-ending Lisfranc (foot) injury … With his tenacity and pulling ability, he could be a force in the running game. With his durability, he could also be a waste of a pick."
- SI’s Albert Breer believes that linebacker is the biggest draft need for the Ravens: "The team lost C.J. Mosley last March, and had to bring Josh Bynes in during October to settle down what had become a bit of an undisciplined defensive front," Breer wrote. "DeCosta could eye someone like LSU's Patrick Queen to man the middle. Remember, there was a year between Ray Lewis's retirement and Mosley's arrival, and so getting Mosley's heir this year would follow that timeline."