With his contract extension complete, Ronnie Stanley has other dreams he is determined to realize in Baltimore.
The Ravens had lofty expectations for Stanley when they selected him sixth overall in the 2016 draft. Stanley has delivered on his promise and more, becoming an All Pro left tackle and signing a five-year extension Friday that will keep him under contract through 2025.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Stanley's five-year extension is worth $98.75 million and would make him the second-highest paid tackle in the league on a yearly average.
But for Stanley, re-signing with the Ravens was never just about money. It was about staying with teammates that he loves to play with, remaining with an organization that believed in his potential, and chasing Super Bowls with a talented young nucleus.
Stanley mentioned all those factors during a video conference Friday. Had Stanley reached free agency, he could have possibly become the league's highest-paid non-quarterback as some pundits anticipated.
But Stanley has felt a special connection to the Ravens since former General Manager Ozzie Newsome, now the team's executive vice president, called Stanley and welcomed him to the Ravens back in 2016. That bond between Stanley and the Ravens intensified through the years, and whatever he may accomplish during his career, he would rather do it in Baltimore.
"I want to play with these guys because they're like family to me," Stanley said. "I'm very appreciative of the whole organization, particularly Ozzie drafting me, just having faith in my ability, drafting me with the sixth pick, and having faith when I know people were in his ear trying to persuade him other ways.
"I'm just really happy that I could prove him right, the organization right, and just help this team. Our ultimate goal is to win Super Bowls."
Arguably the best left tackle in the game, Stanley is Baltimore's first All-Pro left tackle since Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden. Stanley didn't allow a sack in 2019 and was named Pro Football Focus' pass blocker of the year.
The accolades have not diminished Stanley's drive, and don't expect the new contract to do that either. Protecting Lamar Jackson's blindside and being relied on to be a blocking force for a Baltimore's potent rushing attack, Stanley sets extremely high standards for himself and is willing to put in the work to achieve them.
"It matters to him, it's important to him, he wants to be the best," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "We've had many conversations about that, many parts of that over the years. Different things come up, things that you have to do to become as good as he's become. More than anything, he's really a smart guy. He understands the value of hard work. He really is a technician of what he does. He talks about that all the time. At that position, along with talent, that's the most important thing."
It can be challenging for players not to be distracted during contract negotiations, but Stanley wasn't worried about getting a long-term deal done, no matter how badly he wanted it to be finalized.
"My main focus has been (playing) the best I can play and play for my teammates and just try and win," Stanley said. "I always had that mindset and things will always work out when you have that mentality. You worry too much about other stuff, the production on the field starts to lax sometimes. I just try to keep my focus where it needs to be."
Stanley joins other young Pro Bowl players like Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, who have agreed to long-term deals. The Ravens still have other young talented players who will be seeking new deals in the not-too-distant future, a group that includes Jackson, Mark Andrews, Orlando Brown Jr., Matthew Judon and newly-acquired Yannick Nygakoue.
Stanley is confident the Ravens will keep their winning nucleus intact, and with his deal done, he's looking forward to his future in Baltimore even more.
"I was just very happy to see all the work and dedication, my obsession with my technique pay off," Stanley said. "Everything my family sacrificed over the years so I could come here and live my dream.
"I feel like the Ravens do a really good job of picking out good talent and trying to keep that culture the way it's always been. We're a family here and I think all the guys are on the same page of what we're trying to build here in Baltimore, and that's long-term success."