Tyus Bowser wanted a new contract, but he didn't want a new team.
Spending his first four NFL seasons in Baltimore and becoming a better player every year, Bowser has earned a larger role on defense and has blossomed into a versatile all-around linebacker. The hard work paid off during free agency exactly how Bowser hoped it would. He tested free agency, but he re-signed with the Ravens last week on a four-year deal.
Believing his best football is still ahead, the 25-year-old Bowser looks forward to setting an example for the linebacker group with his play, along with his leadership.
"I thought it was important for me to come back this year," Bowser said. "With free agency you just never know what happens, what direction they want to go, what guys they want to bring in. My agent, Jeff Nally, did a great job of contacting them, staying in connection with them, working out a deal. With the defense that we had, just the scheme, I fit in so well with that defense. Just the culture guys, the family atmosphere with that organization, I wanted to stay and be with it. Fortunately we were able to work it out. It's nice to be back for another four years."
The Ravens suffered significant free agent losses at outside linebacker with the departures of Matthew Judon (New England Patriots), Yannick Ngakoue (Las Vegas Raiders) and Jihad Ward (Jacksonville Jaguars). But with Bowser and Pernell McPhee re-signing, the Ravens will rely on both veterans to provide stability to the outside linebacker group that also includes third-year player Jaylon Ferguson. Just as former Ravens like Judon and Terrell Suggs set an example for younger players, Bowser intends to be a mentor for Ferguson and others.
"To be able to lead that group, lead this defense and also lead this team to where we want to be, and that's to win a Super Bowl," Bowser said. "So, I mean I feel like I'll definitely be moving to a bigger role, which I feel like I'm ready for just learning from [Matthew] Judon, learning from 'Sizz' (Suggs) and 'Phee'. All of these guys that have been here before, just learning from them and piggybacking off of what they've been doing these past couple of years. I feel like [after] learning from them…I'm ready to move into that role."
Excelling in pass coverage last season, Bowser had a career-high three interceptions. He also had a career-high 14 quarterback hits and added a career-high 34 tackles. But after being held to just two sacks last season, he plans to increase that sack total in 2021. Bowser believes improving as a pass rusher is one of the keys to taking his game to another level.
"Simple – it's just getting to the quarterback," Bowser said. "I don't know what else to say more than that. I showed that I can drop in coverage, catch the ball, and I was able to get two sacks at the beginning of the year, but after that, I was kind of dry. I was able to get to the quarterback – pressures, things like that – but what actually goes in the stat book is getting that quarterback on the ground while he has the ball. So, I feel like it's just as simple as that – get to the quarterback and sack him."
As a second-round pick from Houston in 2017, Bowser joined the organization with high expectations, but it took him time to realize his potential. The 2019 season was a crucial year for Bowser, and he responded with a career high five sacks and became a regular part of the linebacker rotation.
Bowser's confidence continued to grow last season, and now with his second contract, he looks forward to helping the Ravens win a Super Bowl as part of an organization he didn't want to leave.
"I work my tail off each and every day to work to be in this position, and that's to be a leader on this field, leader to the guys in the locker room and just trying to be a good influence, overall," Bowser said. "Not only for the organization, but just for my family, for other people, for the city of Baltimore, for the city of Tyler [Texas], just trying to be a leader, trying to be an influence to the younger generation in any type of way. I'm looking forward to that challenge."