TAVON YOUNG EXTENSION PRESS CONFERENCE
Executive Vice President/General Manager Eric DeCosta, Head Coach John Harbaugh & CB Tavon Young
Eric DeCosta opening statement: "OK, so I'm very happy to announce a four-year contract, three-year extension, with Tavon [Young]. If you guys remember, a few weeks ago I talked about my desire, and I think the organizational desire, to keep our best young players, and I think that Tavon really is the definition of that. [I'm] very excited for him. He's earned it. To see him last year overcome the knee injury in the manner that he did, the work ethic, his intensity and desire to be the best, is really impressive, I think, for all of us to see daily, and I'm very excited."
John Harbaugh opening statement: "I feel the same way; I couldn't be more excited. I'm really excited for Tavon, and probably, to be honest with you, even more excited for the Ravens and our football team. If you talk to any player, any coach, they'd feel the same way. Everybody understands Tavon and what kind of player he is, and even more than that, what kind of person he is. I think he's just a really fine human being. When he was at Temple, and we saw him play and how we played on tape, then you got to know him, what he meant to their organization, what he meant to their team, why he wore the number he wore there, what that meant – all of that has been evident in what he's done here. All of it transferred to pro football and transferred to our personality as a football team. He plays a very important position. He's a corner, and he plays inside and outside. I think sometimes we talk about guys being inside and outside. Sometimes, I think it's tougher to play inside. I think there's a lot more to know. There's a lot more to understand, all the different coverages and things like that, and it's become a very, very valuable position in this league, and yet, he can go outside and cover guys in a second if we need him to, match up the way we need him to. So, all those things hold true. But, the final piece, for me, is the fact that you can count on this player. You can count on Tavon. He can have an injury, something can be hurting … He was in pain all year with his groin situation, and yet he's going to find a way to get on the field and play, and play his best and play in a way that's winning football. So, the football character is also at a really high level, so we're just very excited to have him. I know our coaches are; I speak for those guys. I know our players are, because I've heard from a lot of them, so we're looking forward to getting to work, right?"
Tavon Young opening statement: "Yes sir. I just want to start this by saying thank you to God, first of all. I wouldn't be here without Him. I want to say thank you to Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti, Mr. Ozzie [Newsome], Mr. DeCosta, coach Harbaugh, for everybody in the Ravens organization who even believed in me, who gave me a chance. Coming out of high school, I wasn't a highly-ranked player – two-star recruit. I got two offers – Towson and Temple – so I took Temple. I fit best with them. I loved it there. I connected with my DB coach, coach 'Fran' [Francis Brown]. He turned me to… He transformed me into a great player, and when it was time to go to the NFL, I was nervous. I'm not going to lie, I was nervous. I didn't know how it was going to turn out, because I was a smaller player. [At the] Combine, I got measured as the shortest player, the shortest DB, so I'm like, 'Oh, man! This is going to get tough.' (laughter)(Harbaugh: "Just get up on your toes!") "I tried to! I tried to stay on my toes. They put the ruler on me." (Harbaugh: "They pushed you down!")(laughter)"Yeah, but it turned out great. I got to come home. They called on draft day. Man, I was just so happy. My family was happy. I came right down to the stadium, as you all may know. I just felt the love right away, and I'm blessed to be here, blessed to be in this situation, and I'm just ready to keep working."
Tavon, when the Ravens approached you about this, saying they wanted to secure you and have you be so much a part of their future, what was kind of your initial reaction to that? (Jamison Hensley)
Young: "Excited, of course! I'm home. That's one of the main things, and I love it here. I love the culture. My teammates, we're all close. We're like brothers. It seems like we've known each other for 10 years, and I know things may change every once in a while, but I feel like we all have that connection always. And, I have a great connection with my coaches – all the coaches, offensive side, defensive side, offensive players – we're all cool, and I really love it here."
How key is it having that continuity in the secondary, having guys who know each other as far as communication? (Todd Karpovich)
Harbaugh: "That's a great point. Tavon would also agree with this. We do a lot back there. We're not running a simple system that we play the same coverage all the time. We're playing about every coverage you can run. We have about every little call in there that you can run, and we like to play a lot of man coverage, so I think those guys having continuity from one year to the next and building on that system is a big part of it. And, you want to have smart players like Tavon, and that's a big part of it, too."
You kind of referenced this, but has the slot corner become an even more valuable position in today's NFL, where a lot of teams go three-wide and try to get mismatches in that slot? (Ryan Mink)
Harbaugh: "Yes, if you look at it, I think we played our base defense with four defensive backs 16 percent of the time this year, so that's kind of stunning, and it's been going down pretty much every year. Offenses are attacking you in a lot of different ways, a lot of different personnel groups. They'll get in big personnel a lot of times, and they'll throw the ball out of that and spread people out, right? And, they try to put a lot of stress on linebackers. So, if you have a versatile player that can play in there, can cover receivers, but is also willing to blitz, also willing to go in there and make tackles against the run like this guy is, it's a big plus for you."
Eric, how quickly did this all come together? How much was this in the works? After your press conference, as you just said, you were going to be proactive and fiscally responsible. Was there a conversation with the coach beforehand? (Jerry Coleman)
DeCosta: "We've had a chance to watch Tavon this year, and just to see how he responded from the injury and how he played this year, and then, when we got down to Jupiter [Fla.] as an organization, we met and discussed, and Tavon was one of the players that we thought would be really smart for us to approach to see if we could get him locked up for multiple years. Everybody was obviously on board with that. We started, I think, the negotiation maybe two weeks ago, and once we kind of got started… Adisa [Bakari, Young's representative] and I have worked together in the past, and Pat [Moriarty, senior vice president of football administration] has worked with Adisa as well. We've got a really good, strong relationship, and I think it was pretty easy for us to get to this point."
Tavon, what about the journey being out all of 2017, rehabbing by yourself, and then you come back in '18 and have your best season ever? You're sitting here right now, able to support your family for the rest of your life. What was that like, being in that dark place? Did it get dark for you? How did you stay focused and positive? (Kirk McEwen)
Young: "It was a rough point in time for me when I first got hurt. To be honest, when that happened, when I got up, I thought I was all right. I thought I could go back to practice. I'm like, 'Man, I could go back!' And the trainer was like, 'No, we have to go get an MRI.' But, when I got hurt, I went to the doctor's office, came back to the locker room, talked to the head trainer, 'Smitty' [Mark Smith] at the time, and I got home from the doctor. He said, 'You tore your ACL.' I cried. It hurt me. It broke me down, but I got in the locker room. [Eric] Weddle was in there. I remember Eric Weddle, Mike Wallace – I forgot who else – but they all came up to me, just like, 'Man, you're a great player. It's not the end for you.' And they were like, 'Just keep your head up.' Of course, I was still sad, but once I got in the house, I was just sitting there like, 'Man, I'm about to miss a whole season. I might get replaced right away, and it might be over.' But, I talked to [Lardarius] Webb. Webb went through the same thing I did, and he was a great person to talk to at that point in time. A lot of people reached out to me – my teammates – and I got through it. Then, once the season came and I started getting back around everybody, [I thought,] 'I'm going to be back before I know it.' Once the season was over, boom, back at OTAs and started the season. It was fun."
What would you have said at that point if you knew that this big contract was in your future? (Garrett Downing)
Young: "It still would've hurt! (laughter) It still would have hurt to miss a season, to be honest. I love playing football, and I don't like missing games. And, when I missed the playoff game this year because of my hernia, I was hurting about that, but there was nothing I really could do. It just wasn't working for me that day. But, it's all fixed now, and I'm ready to go."
Tavon, on that topic, what was it like all year, because I know you were dealing with the hernia and the groin? How were you able to fight through that at certain points? (Aaron Kasinitz)
Young: "Me and the coaches talked. We worked our way around it. Less practice reps sometimes, at times, but working out the with training staff, just taking care of my body even more, and when gameday comes, just fight through it. Play ball. (Reporter: "And are you good now? Are you going to be ready to play?") "Oh, yeah. I'm ready."
John, I know obviously you reward Tavon for his consistency over the course of the season, but was there a performance last year that really sticks out to you as just being the most significant? _(Jonas Shaffer) _
Harbaugh: "That's a great question. I would just say no, there really wasn't a particular performance. You can go back and look at plays he made. Obviously, out there in L.A., that was a pretty big play. But, it's more consistency. It's more that he shows up every single day, and you know what you're going to get. You're going to get everything he has, and that's really a lot. He's a versatile football player. He can cover guys. He can make tackles. We want to run a diverse defense. We want to bring guys, we want to cover guys, we want to change things up. You need versatile players that can do a lot, and that's Tavon."
I think defensive coordinator Don Martindale mentioned this a couple days after that win in L.A. He said something about how you were going through pre-game warmups, you said how you were going to cause a turnover – and you had that fumble recovery. Were you there for that? Do you remember anything about calling your shot? (Jonas Shaffer)
Young: "That was the Falcons game. It was that drive coming onto the field, when we were walking onto the field. They were punting the ball, came down, the defense was on the side. I'm like, 'Coach, man, send me on the blitz or something! I'm trying to get the ball! We're about to get a turnover right here.' He was like, 'Are you sure?' I'm like, 'Yes, I'm sure.' Got in there … 'Peanut' [Patrick Onwuasor] – that was a great play by 'Peanut' – and I just finished the play. I give props to him."
Do you find that certain players have a knack for being around the ball and able to be in a position to make those plays? (Jamison Hensley)
Harbaugh: "Yes, and how do you define that?When you see it in college, will it transfer to the NFL? Tavon alluded to it. There were plenty of naysayers – right – for you as a corner. Size, speed, whatever – I mean, I think you're pretty darn fast. For me, it was the tape. I watched the tape; I watched him play against everybody they played against at Temple. They had a really good team, really great defense. Everybody – Notre Dame – all the number of receivers he was playing against – he covered them all. He covered the best receiver, covered them, gave them fits. You just felt like this guy could play the game. That's the thing: You play the game. I don't know … You were in the fourth round, I remember that. You're sitting there, staring at us on the board in the fourth round. To me, it's like, 'Let's not wait any longer.' Right, Eric? 'Let's go. Let's get this player.' The thing that you feel great about is everything doesn't always work out that way, but everything that you hoped he would be, he has become and more."
Teammates and coaches often talk about your toughness. How does that make you feel when you hear other people praise you for your toughness? Where do you think that comes from? Was it because of your size or did you always have to be that way? (Cliff Brown)
Young: "First, I just want to thank all my teammates for recognizing that. But growing up, I never really paid attention to my size. I just played sports, played football. That's just who I am. I'm a tough person. I'm humble. I just go for it, and I go for it all."
Eric, do you foresee any other press conferences before free agency begins?_ (Jamison Hensley)_
DeCosta: "Well, that'd be great. I think we have a plan, and we're moving forward. We go to the Combine next week. We'll have a lot of important discussions there next week. Hopefully we get a chance to see you guys again soon."
Particularly with these extensions for players – do you foresee that there could be more of these deals?_ (Ryan Mink)_
DeCosta: "Again, I think we have a plan. I think, hopefully, that will come to fruition over the next two, three, four, five weeks – whatever it is. I think the big thing [is] this is a good first step for us. We signed a player that we really liked a year early, a guy that really epitomizes what it's like to 'Play Like A Raven.' We're all excited about that."
Tavon, what does it say about the organization that they came to you early and wanted to lock you up? It kind of sends a message to the other guys in your situation. (Kirk McEwen)
Young: "This is a great organization – best one in the NFL. I'm not saying that just because I'm here. I always heard that, too. They really care about their players, and it's like a family here. That's what you really look for as a player. You want to fit in, you want to be close to everybody in the building. You don't want it to be just, 'He's our coach,' or, 'He's my co-worker, my teammate.' You want to be brothers. You want to be a family. I feel like we built that here, and it can take us a long way."
Eric, was there any comparable player situation you used to award this contract? (Jerry Coleman)
DeCosta: "Not really. You just look at contracts, and you look at your player, and it's usually based on your assessment, your evaluation of the player and what you think it brings to the table. I think moving forward, that's what we'll continue to do. We don't necessarily pay attention to all the noise that's out there. We look at what we think of the player and how he approaches his job day to day. We see him in the building. Again, for me personally, seeing Tavon, watching him rehab, spoke volumes. Seeing his approach day to day – it tells you everything you need to know about a player."
Harbaugh: "One thing – if I could add – is that's a compliment to Eric [DeCosta] and Ozzie [Newsome] and Steve [Bisciotti, owner] – the whole organization, Dick [Cass, president]. They're the planners of these kinds of things. They figure out the numbers. Then to your side of it, Tavon, your whole group … I mean, it's one thing to negotiate, and it's another thing to make a deal that's great for everybody. You have to recognize – and kind of to your point – this is a big contract. This is a big number. This is a record-setting number. It's not something that you enter into lightly at all. Right, Eric? You enter into it with a lot of thought, and we've done a great job. But the math works, and the math works because of who the player is, and we know this player. I think what Eric said a couple weeks ago about being committed to signing our players … Especially now since our cap situation … There's a little more light than there was in the last couple years, when we weren't able to do this as much as we wanted to in the past. But you have to be smart about it. I feel like this is a very smart move, and I think both sides wanted to make this done and came to right number. It just was well organized and well done. You don't always see that. I'm a coach, and I sit back, and I watch this stuff sometimes, and I get frustrated because it doesn't seem like both sides work. I'd probably blame the other side more sometimes like, 'Why can't we get this done?' But to see it work the way it did for the benefit of both sides, to me, is pretty great. It's going to make us a better football team."
Eric, there's the QB Joe Flacco thing, there's the CB Tavon Young signing …. How different was all of this for you, personally, now that you're in that chair? Did this process feel different than extensions that were done in the past? (Bo Smolka)
DeCosta: "We had a really good plan going back to Jupiter [Fla.], and I'm blessed to have some really good partners in Steve [Bisciotti] and Ozzie [Newsome] and Dick [Cass] and Pat [Moriarty, senior vice president of football administration] and John [Harbaugh]. I think we crafted a really good, strong plan that we all buy into and believe in. So, I don't know if it's necessarily _my_ decision. It's an organizational decision. From that standpoint. It doesn't really feel that much different from other years, because we all have a chance to talk about the issues, and really form something that we think makes a lot of sense."
Eric, does this level of commitment also speak to the resources you want to give to the secondary in this system, that you guys really feel like that's an area you want to be strong in moving forward? (Ryan Mink)
DeCosta: "I think the secondary is critically important. I've been here 23 years, and the fastest way to lose a game is to play poorly in the secondary. We've had the chance to watch Tavon. We've been around a lot of good corners in the past. We've been blessed to have a lot of good corners play here over the years. This is a guy that really compares to all those guys."
I know it's early, but the spotlight is on Eric DeCosta being the new GM. There's a trade you can't talk about right now, but CB Tavon Young's extension … How do you think Eric has done in the first couple moves they've had?_ (Jamison Hensley)_
Harbaugh: "The jury is still out! We're going to keep evaluating here; we're going to see how this goes." (laughter)
DeCosta: "Tavon would say well." (laughter)
Harbaugh: "It's going great. It's just what Eric said. It's new, and it's not new. I think when you are the decision-maker, and you're pulling the trigger … I've just been impressed by the fact that Eric … It doesn't feel different. That's what I'm impressed by. It doesn't feel different. It feels decisive; it's always well-thought out. I think Eric does a great job of working with all of us and everybody else, the names that he didn't mention who are a part of it. But when you're the guy pulling the trigger, you're the one making the decision, you have to make it. It's not quite the same. Yes, so far, so good."
Eric, was there any more emphasis on getting a deal done with a great slot cornerback because of how many great slot wide receivers there are in your division? (Jonas Shaffer)
DeCosta: "That might be part of it. I think just in general, this is a great football player. This is the kind of guy that you want to keep on your team. We try to keep as many good players as we can, and this was a great opportunity for us. Tavon was willing, and I think we're all just very thrilled."
Tavon, we laughed when QB Joe Flacco signed his extension and then went through the McDonald's drive-thru on the way home. Are there big plans now that the deal is done?_ (Bo Smolka)_
Young: "Not really, just go out with my family, probably – take my mom and my dad out. I'm just happy for them. I called my mom [and] she couldn't believe it. She was like, 'Are you lying? Is you for real?' (laughter)I'm like, 'Yes, mom!' I'm just so happy I can just take care of them now. It's a blessing."