Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh met with the media for nearly an hour Tuesday morning during the coaches’ breakfast at the annual NFL owners meetings.
Harbaugh covered a variety of topics during the breakfast, including the team’s moves in free agency, his mindset ahead of the draft and expectations for quarterback Joe Flacco.
He also discussed the future of Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Mosley is currently slated to play under the fifth-year option, which carries an $8.7 million cap hit in 2018, but the Ravens are optimistic about reaching a long-term deal with their star linebacker.
Harbaugh told reporters that “of course” he hopes to get Mosley signed to a long-term deal.
“He’s a great player,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a great person. He’s special in every way.”
In addition to locking up one of their best young players, extending Mosley would free up cap space for the Ravens to use in free agency. The Ravens have already added wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Smokey Brown, but they’re still hunting for additional weapons in the passing game.
An extension with Mosley doesn’t necessarily have an impending deadline, as he is signed through the season. If the two sides don’t reach a deal before the season, they could go back to the negotiating table in 2019.
“I’m really excited that he’s going to be playing for us this year. I do expect him to be playing for us for a long time,” Harbaugh said. “We all like a little security with where things are at. But in this league, with the business aspect of things, you kind of have to get passed that.”
Here were some of the other news and notes from the breakfast:
Collins in Line for Starting Job
Alex Collins is in line for the starting running back job after a breakout 2017 season.
“Obviously, we have a starter,” Harbaugh said. “Alex has proven that. He had a great year last year. He makes people miss. He breaks tackles. Yards after contact. This is a player that makes stuff happen. He’s exciting. I know our fans love him.”
Harbaugh also pointed out that Buck Allen is coming off the best season of his young career and talented rusher Kenneth Dixon is returning from missing all of last year with a knee injury.
“Those are three really good backs,” Harbaugh said. “I feel great about our running backs.”
Ravens Still Pursuing Pass-Catching Tight End
As the Ravens continue the process of improving the passing game, they’re looking for a pass-catching tight end. Veteran Benjamin Watson looks like he’s headed elsewhere in free agency with reports connecting him to Kansas City, and the Ravens plan to address the position in free agency or the draft.
“We’re going to try to get one,” Harbaugh said.
Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams are both still on the roster, but they are more suited as blockers who can work underneath routes.
“Those guys have a huge role on our team. I love those two guys,” Harbaugh said. “And then a pass-catching tight end is something that can stretch the field, can make some big plays for us, that’s something that we want to have.”
*Harbaugh Praises Newsome’s Humility, Confidence *
Harbaugh’s media session was the first time he’s talked about next year’s change at general manager when Eric DeCosta succeeds Ozzie Newsome.
Harbaugh was asked about what sets Newsome apart as general manager, and he pointed to his combination of confidence and humility.
“He’s been great at anything he’s ever done,” Harbaugh said. “If you look at his history, he’s in every Hall of Fame there is, and still counting. For me. It just goes to who he is as a person.
“He’s a fundamentally humble person, that’s where it starts. And I don’t think Ozzie Newsome feels like he has to prove anything in any given day. That’s pretty rare. We’d all like to have that type of mindset.”
Debate Continues About Instant Replay
Rules changes and proposals are often a big discussion during the annual meetings, and there is still a debate among head coaches about the use of instant replay in the game.
Harbaugh told reporters that he’s in favor of expanding it in certain areas, which is a point Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick has made for years. But new Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden leans the other way on the discussion.
“I'd like to eliminate instant replay, honestly," Gruden said. "That would be my No. 1 thing. Let the officials call the game. That's just my opinion.”