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An Original NFL 'Capologist,' Pat Moriarty Moves Into Consulting Role

Pat Moriarty
Pat Moriarty

When Jim Bailey, the then executive vice president of the Cleveland Browns, called Pat Moriarty in 1993 after the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement was agreed to, the conversation went something like this.

"Hey Pat, there's this thing, the salary cap. No one knows anything about it, but we need you to manage it."

Moriarty was an original NFL "capologist" before the term even existed. He was a major part in building two Ravens Super Bowl winners and keeping the team competitive year after year. He has managed the financial side of the Ravens' personnel decisions and negotiated contracts totaling more than $1 billion.

This will be Year 31 in the NFL for Moriarty, with the first two in Cleveland and the other 29 in Baltimore. Now, he's a consultant with the team.

"He's an original Raven – a behind-the-scenes salary-cap and management dynamo whose contributions stretch 30 years," General Manager Eric DeCosta stated. "He's negotiated some of the biggest contracts in NFL history, and he's widely respected across both the league and agent community. He's also my best friend and right-hand man."

Moriarty is viewing the career move like a banker. After all, that's what he was in his previous career. It's about time allocation and finishing the job, not looking backwards, he says.

"Emotions? I don't know," Moriarty said. "My thoughts are what I have to do today. You're always kind of in the moment in the NFL. Every day has new challenges."

Moriarty was a football player before a football executive. He was an undrafted running back from Georgia Tech who scored two touchdowns for the Browns in 1979. After a couple more years trying to make it as an NFL player, Moriarty went to work for the Browns' bank. He spent 11 years as a commercial banker before Bailey called, wanting him back in a different capacity.

Moriarty was named the Browns' director of business operations in 1994 and soon was assisting Bailey in negotiating with the city of Cleveland for a new stadium. When that wasn't going to happen, they negotiated with the state of Maryland. When the franchise moved to Baltimore, Owner Art Modell asked them to come along.

"Making the move, it really felt like we were starting a new franchise – new name, new colors, new city," Moriarty said. "You felt like it's your baby."

Moriarty was the Ravens' first chief financial officer, in charge of business and personnel finances – and everything in between. Another executive who came with him from Cleveland was the great Ozzie Newsome. Moriarty was Newsome's right-hand man in charge of negotiating player contracts and managing the salary cap.

"Everything was new. Everybody was trying to figure it out at the same time," Moriarty said of the salary cap. "Each team was learning on the run – how to manage the salary cap and how to plan ahead."

One of the contract negotiations that stands out for Moriarty most was Ray Lewis' contract extension in 1998. Moriarty and Lewis' agent were negotiating midway through the season during a road trip to San Diego to play the Chargers. They worked on it Saturday, then reconvened Sunday for breakfast. Not wanting to break momentum, the talks continued onto the bus ride to the game and then onto the bench during pre-game warmups.

They finally came to an agreement on the bench just before kickoff, with the terms of a four-year deal making Lewis one of the NFL's highest-paid linebackers scribbled on the back of a team itinerary. Two years later, Lewis led the Ravens to their first Super Bowl victory.

Moriarty didn't just help build the 2000 Ravens, including deals on back-to-back days with Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe and quarterback Tony Banks. Moriarty also helped construct the 2012 Super Bowl winners, which outside of Lewis didn't have any other players from that 2000 squad.

In 2005, after assisting in the full ownership transition from Modell to Steve Bisciotti, Moriarty made the choice to stay on the personnel side of the business and was named the team's vice president of football administration. He was senior vice president of football operations from 2013-2021.

Salary-cap management has become a massive job, and he's seen it evolve tremendously over the years. To stay competitive, the best teams have had to do an excellent job forecasting their roster and finding creative ways to build and improve it within the cap restraints.

"It became such a large industry itself," Moriarty said. "The job became bigger and bigger and bigger where you had to devote your full time to that. For the last 30-plus years, I never felt like I really worked for a living. My hobby was my job. I've loved everything about it."

The people are what made Baltimore home, however. He's proud that he passed on his salary-cap knowledge and mentored scouts who moved up the ranks and eventually became general managers, people such as Phil Savage, George Kokinis, Joe Douglas, Joe Hortiz and, of course, DeCosta.

Moriarty played football with Newsome, then worked alongside him in Cleveland and Baltimore. Moriarty saw DeCosta start with the Ravens as a low-level scout in 1996, then ultimately worked for him. Moriarty has a special relationship with both, in very different ways.

"My first experience with Ozzie was as a teammate, and he never changed," Moriarty said. "He was this wonderful player who was very gifted, very talented. But, to me, the biggest thing that stood out was his work ethic. He knew only one speed and that was full speed. He was always the consummate professional, and he took that work ethic with him. The same qualities that made him a great player made him a great general manager."

Moriarty has a spooky clown mask sitting on top of a mini fridge in his office. It's from one of the hundreds of pranks DeCosta pulled on him over the years. Moriarty made the mistake of telling DeCosta that he was afraid of clowns as a child, so DeCosta popped out of Moriarty's jacket closet one day with the mask on.

"Eric has been like a brother to me. Unfortunately, sometimes the obnoxious little brother," Moriarty said with a grin.

"It's fun because you meet people throughout your career, and you see qualities about an individual," Moriarty added. "You just know. It was like Ray Lewis at his first practice. He didn't look like a rookie. He didn't act like a rookie. There was something special about him. And Eric, to me, was that person – fun-loving, full of energy, constantly asking questions and learning. Most of all, he's been a great friend."

A major part of Moriarty's job over the years has been planning ahead. One of his long-term goals was to leave the organization better than when he first arrived. Moriarty helped bring on Vice President of Football Administration Nick Matteo in 2019 and recently Football Administration/Salary Cap Analyst Sophie Cortese.

"My goal was always find people that are more qualified than you. If you can do that, then I think you've done a good thing," Moriarty said. "It just seems like the right time."

Moriarty's job has required a lot of his time over the past three decades, time that the 69-year-old now wants to allocate more to his family. He has three children, and he welcomed his first grandchild last year. But beyond family and the typical things like more golf and travel, the professional planner hasn't figured out what his next chapter will look like.

"Football has always been my life," Moriarty said. "It's hard to think what you're going to do beyond that. I'm going to have to get back to you on that.

"It isn't leaving the job. It's leaving your friends. Ozzie, Eric, George, and Vince [Newsome], I'll miss them a lot. That will be hard. They're just wonderful people. I can't say enough. Now I'm going to start getting teary-eyed."

And with that, the innovative number cruncher went back to work.

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