Steve Bisciotti Discusses Ravens' Commitment to Lamar Jackson, His Role in Odell Beckham Jr. Signing
There was plenty to talk about when Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti sat down with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan of SiriusXM NFL Radio at training camp for a rare interview earlier this week.
"We had a productive offseason, didn't we?" Bisciotti said.
Indeed, signing franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson to a record deal and luring star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to Baltimore can certainly be categorized as productive.
Bisciotti issued his first public comments on both moves. He reiterated what General Manager Eric DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh said during the long and sometimes tense negotiation process with Jackson: the Ravens never wavered in their desire to sign him to a long-term deal.
"That's what he was out there facing, that somebody was going to have to outbid us," Bisciotti said about the team placing the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, which allowed him to negotiate with other teams. "We knew it wasn't going to happen, so we just had to be patient."
It certainly didn't hurt that the Ravens signed Beckham, a player who was on Jackson's wish list, a few weeks prior. Bisciotti discussed the role he played in the team acquiring the three-time Pro Bowler.
"Eric was updating me on everything, and I just said to him, 'Do you want me to call him?'" Bisciotti said. "And Eric started laughing and he said, 'You've never asked me that before, to talk to a free agent.' And I said, 'Well, you know, he's great, and he's sitting at home, so somebody's going to get him.'"
Bisciotti said he was struck by Beckham's maturity when they talked.
"We talked about his legacy and the hunger he still has, and it was like, 'Yeah, we really, really need a leader like this,'" Bisciotti said. "And I think some people scoffed and thought, 'A leader? Is he?' After a few conversations with this guy, I was like, 'No, this dude is a Raven. This is a veteran Raven.'
"I would've soured on him if he showed a lack of humility. I really would have, and I didn't get that at all. It kinda went the other way. I was like, 'Damn, I just got a really good feeling about this guy.'"
Here are some other excerpts from the interview:
On Harbaugh's success and longevity: "He has a very relatable personality. We talk a lot about empathy. I think it's a very, very strong, powerful word, but you have to internalize it, and I think that John truly puts himself in the minds of these young guys, so that never gets old. … John's a deep thinker and he shows these guys that he cares about them."
On his unique introduction to being an NFL owner: "I owned 49 percent of this team for four years. Nobody else has ever done that. Four years I got to sit there and listen to great people — Art Modell, Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta, Brian Billick — and learn this game, and I didn't have one ounce of power for four years. So I said to people it would be like going to class every day for four years in college and you never got a test. … I kind of came with a lifelong perspective of a fan, and then got to get this accelerated program for four years where I didn't have to make a wrong move because I wasn't able to make any moves. So that education is unique. So when I walked in owning 100 percent now, I knew what I was doing. I knew every player in the business. I knew the pros and cons to almost every question because that's all I did for four years."
On the Ravens' record preseason winning streak: "Did anybody play a pickup game and not want to win? The naysayers kind of want to make fun of it, but it really comes down to, I think our [third-stringers] are better than everybody else's because they're homegrown."
Big Bounce-Back Season Predicted for Beckham
NFL.com’s Kevin Patra identified 10 players with one-year contracts who will make the biggest impact this season. Beckham, whose one-year deal is reportedly worth $15 million (up to $18 million with incentives), was ranked No. 2.
"After sitting out all last season, the jury remains out on how much juice is left in Beckham's tank, but his mere presence in Baltimore should help open the offense," Patra wrote. "Beckham can still run routes and owns sticky hands, giving the Ravens a threat they've missed. Pairing OBJ with rookie Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman (when healthy) and the ever-reliable Mark Andrews makes the new Ravens passing attack more dangerous than it's ever been in the Lamar Jackson era."
Meanwhile, ESPN's Mike Greenberg put Beckham at No. 1 on his list of top five players most likely to bounce back this season.
More Buzz for Zay Flowers
Zay Flowers continues to generate buzz around the league, as the first-round wide receiver was heavily talked about on “Good Morning Football” yesterday.
The hosts debated whether Flowers or Pittsburgh Steelers second-year wide receiver George Pickens is creating more training camp buzz. The prevailing opinion was that it's Flowers.
"I just love Zay Flowers," Jason McCourty said. "I love all the attention he's getting. I'm going with Zay. When you get the nickname 'Joystick' that early on in training camp and everybody's raving. Peter King shows up to practice and talks about Zay Flowers the whole time."
Also during the show, Peter Schrager ranked Flowers at No. 1 on his top five buzzworthy rookies watchlist.
"Anyone who has been at Ravens practice has been like, 'This dude is unstoppable,'" Schrager said. "... I am so excited to see the Ravens actually take the field in a preseason game this weekend and for Zay Flowers to actually be on an NFL field."
Pundits Says Rashod Bateman Is 'Going to Put on a Show' This Season
Bateman also got some love on "Good Morning Football" yesterday.
Pro Football Focus' Trevor Sikkema appeared on the show and said he's expecting a huge season from the 2021 first-round wide receiver, who returned to practice this week as he continues to progress from his foot injury.
"I think Rashod Bateman's about to go crazy this year," Sikkema said. "The last we saw him fully healthy was that junior season at Minnesota, and he graded out in our system as an elite receiver. … We saw him get activated from the PUP list and even in just the small training camp clips that we've seen, he looks confident, he looks explosive, and he looks as healthy as he has been over the last three years. And so I really think that a fully healthy season from Rashod Bateman, we are once again going to get elite-level production from this dude. He's so talented. … He's going to put on a show in Baltimore."
Three Bold Predictions for the Ravens
PFF’s Sam Monson made three bold predictions for every AFC North team. Here's what he came up with for the Ravens:
Jackson will set a career-high PFF passing grade
"Jackson's college offense used three or more receivers on the field 65% of the time. Baltimore was at 12% last year, the lowest rate in the NFL by an order of magnitude. Jackson has shown repeatedly he is an excellent passer at this level, and now he's going to be in an offense that showcases it."
Baltimore will sign a "starting" nickel cornerback before the season
"The Ravens have a solid-looking roster, but cornerback is a potential area of concern. The only player with any kind of proven track record playing in the slot is Marlon Humphrey, who has transitioned away from that position over the past couple of years. … There's a solid chance the Ravens will look to sign a slot defender they have confidence in before the season starts, or potentially add a veteran cornerback who will allow Humphrey to transition back inside in sub packages."
David Ojabo leads the team in sacks
"David Ojabo making it back onto the field at all last season after tearing his Achilles tendon at his pro day was a minor miracle. It was also more symbolic than any real opportunity for him to make an impact. This season, however, the Ravens will look to deploy a first-round talent who slipped because of that injury. With a lack of consistent veterans along that defensive front, the door is open for anybody to be the team's leading pass rusher. … If Ojabo can show why he was a highly regarded talent, he will complete a phenomenal comeback."