The Ravens have the best offense in the franchise's 24-year existence and are doing their best to keep it together.
The two-year extension signed by fullback/defensive lineman Patrick Ricard on Tuesday means every starter on the Ravens' offense is already under contract for next season. Wide receiver Seth Roberts is the only regular offensive contributor whose contract is set to expire in March.
The Ravens have gone about building a young, explosive offense around quarterback Lamar Jackson – one that complements his special talents and one that he can grow with.
As the Ravens predicted, their offense has revolutionized how the game can be played. Now the building blocks are in place for sustained success.
"I think we're happy with that situation on offense. I know [General Manager] Eric [DeCosta] is and I know I am," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Hopefully we can do more of that."
Harbaugh said the team would also like to sign players on defense and special teams to extensions before they hit the open market. Baltimore saw its defense drastically changed in free agency last offseason.
On offense, the Ravens are in position for continuity largely because the unit has been overhauled in the past two drafts.
In 2018, Baltimore drafted Jackson, tight ends Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst, starting right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and starting left guard Bradley Bozeman. The Ravens also got No. 2 running back Gus Edwards as an undrafted rookie.
This year, the Ravens drafted top wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown in the first round and picked up wide receiver Miles Boykin and running back Justice Hill, who have both been key role players, in the middle rounds.
"We have a young team, fast team," Jackson said. "We have a difficult system we're running, and the guys who are here, we're running it smoothly. We've been progressing each and every week, each and every day, so it's best when everyone is doing their job and keeping the guys here."
This past offseason, the Ravens locked up tight end Nick Boyle to a three-year deal that puts him under contract through 2021, just like Ricard. Boyle has been an instrumental and versatile blocker, as well as a physical, sure-handed receiver.
In late October, Baltimore signed wide receiver Willie Snead IV to a one-year contract extension. The 27-year-old receiver has built a good connection with Jackson and been a reliable pass-catcher and valuable blocker.
Now the Ravens have locked up Ricard, who is another one of the chess pieces that makes the whole operation go. Ricard's physicality is perfect in Baltimore's punch-you-in-the-mouth offense.
"Me coming here as an undrafted rookie out of Maine, giving me the opportunity to play fullback and D-line, and now the opportunity to extend me and keep playing, I'm very grateful and very excited to move forward," Ricard said.
Ricard said the emotions of the contract extension didn't really hit him until he got his signing bonus. He was with his fiancée – his sweetheart from David Prouty High School in Spencer, Mass. – and said it will be a moment they "cherish for years to come."
So what did they do afterward? He hit up food trucks parked at the Under Armour Performance Center.
"Saving money," Ricard said.
It's been a wild path for Ricard. Just last year at this time, he was a healthy scratch. Media pundits wondered this offseason if Ricard would even make the 53-man roster at the end of training camp. Turns out, his agent and the Ravens have been in talks about an extension since the preseason.
If told when he signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent defensive lineman in 2017 that he would sign a contract extension with the team primarily for his skills as a fullback, Ricard said he wouldn't have believed it.
"Project Pat" is the first player since Cleveland Browns wide receiver/safety Mike Furrey in 2009 to play at least 100 snaps on offense and defense. Ricard is the NFL's first two-way player in over a decade, and one the Ravens treasure.
"The season I've had and this team has had, it's just a complete 180," Ricard said. "I'm very humbled and grateful and appreciative of it."