Eric DeCosta's loyalty, love and pride for the Baltimore Ravens are unmatched. A pillar of the organization's well-laid foundation, DeCosta has been with the franchise since Day One, first beginning as an intern during the inaugural 1996 season and then ascending to the personnel department's chief decision-maker in 2019.
Prior to being named executive vice president and general manager – succeeding the legendary Ozzie Newsome – DeCosta, 51, received GM interview offers annually from multiple teams in recent years.
However, he never seriously considered leaving Baltimore. Simply put, Eric's respect for – and thorough understanding of – the Ravens' culture aligned perfectly with his pursuit of a dream job.
"I'm the kind of person who appreciates people who stick with things," DeCosta admits. "Even when I think about athletes I've admired, people I've admired, they've had long tenures in different places. But I love this community. My family is from this community. I love the people I work with day to day. Anyone who knows me knows that."
In 2007, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti first approached DeCosta about becoming general manager one day. Years later, they decided Eric would continue to serve as Newsome's top lieutenant through 2018, helping groom him for the GM role and setting up a seamless transition.
"Did I have chances [to leave]? Yes," DeCosta shares. "Did I have a lot? Yes. Did I ever really consider it? Not really, because every time I'd go to bed thinking that maybe I would consider something, I'd wake up and say, 'What are you, crazy? You know you're going to have the job someday that you've dreamed about, so just wait and make it perfect.'"
From an outside perspective, the imminent ascension might have spawned challenges in DeCosta's relationship with Newsome. That was never the case, however, because the duo has always had a remarkable connection – one that forged a rare professional partnership and an extraordinary friendship.
"Ozzie basically took a 25-year-old kid who had no experience in the NFL, who was so different from him, and gave me a chance and accepted me," DeCosta says fondly. "He and I have always been very different in a lot of ways, but so aligned. It's a special relationship in my life. I've learned a lot of football, but honestly, just a lot more about being a good person."
A graduate of the Ravens' "20/20 Club," which includes members of the personnel staff who started with the team as young assistants and grew into evaluators with more input, DeCosta quickly moved up the ranks. He was first a personnel intern (1996), then area scout (1997-2002), then director of college scouting (2003-08), then director of player personnel (2009-11) and then assistant GM (2012-18).
It became evident early in DeCosta's tenure that he was destined for NFL success. Brimming with passion, resourcefulness, a relentless attitude and an advanced aptitude, he quickly earned his co-workers' respect.
"When Ray Lewis walked into camp his first day, he never really was truly a rookie," Ravens SVP of football operations Pat Moriarty recalls. "He was Ray Lewis, our starting linebacker. [That same year of 1996], I think Eric was never 'Eric the Intern.' He was more than a scout."
Raised in Taunton, MA, DeCosta set his sights on becoming an NFL GM from the age of 6. His interest first piqued in 1978, when, contrary to many of his friends who were Patriots and Broncos fans, he began to follow the Cowboys.
"I was fascinated by the Cowboys and Tom Landry, Gil Brandt, Tex Schramm – the whole notion of scouting and building a football team," DeCosta states. "Doing things differently than all the other teams did back then really appealed to me."
Throughout much of his upbringing, Eric would study the NFL – particularly the draft – in a detailed manner that continuously amazed friends and family members.
His passion for the game of football was also quite evident on the field. Though, admittedly, he was never the biggest, fastest, smartest or most talented athlete, DeCosta was undoubtedly the hardest worker – someone always seeking ways to make himself better and gain a competitive edge.
While attending Colby College in Maine, the undersized linebacker went on to become a three-year captain and starter. He knew every assignment on the gridiron, holding himself to the highest of standards, all while inspiring teammates to reach new levels.
After graduating from Colby in 1992, DeCosta took part in a graduate coaching fellowship for the football team at Trinity University, where he would also earn a master's in English. But as time passed, he became uncertain about where a coaching path would lead. Looking to maximize his options, Eric applied to law school and prepared to pursue a new career, rather than cling to his football passion.
However, a chance encounter reinvigorated DeCosta's football pursuits in 1995, when he met someone who had completed an internship with Washington's NFL team. Upon learning of such NFL opportunities, Eric immediately sent resumes and letters to all 32 clubs. In response, he received rejection notices from all but one team – Washington – which hired him to serve as a training camp intern.
Thanks to that experience, DeCosta had finally – and successfully – broken into the NFL. The following year (1996), he landed the Ravens' personnel internship during their first-ever season. Coincidentally, he accepted Baltimore's offer the same day he learned that he had been placed on the University of Connecticut Law School waitlist.
"I was willing to take a chance," DeCosta affirms, "because I knew that once I got to Baltimore, I'd do everything to make the most of my opportunity."
The rest, as they say, is history – something bolstered by loyalty, love and pride from a man who helped build an organization, just as much as the organization built him.
1996-2022: (with Baltimore) 2021: Signed All-Pro TE Mark Andrews and OLB Tyus Bowser to long-term extensions...Andrews earned his second Pro Bowl by producing single-season franchise records in receptions (107) and receiving yards (1,361), while also leading all NFL TEs in both categories...Bowser set new career highs in tackles (56), sacks (7) and QBHs (15)...First-round draft picks WR Rashod Bateman (27th) and OLB Odafe Oweh (31st) made significant contributions as rookies. 2020: Ravens earned their third-straight playoff berth by posting an 11-5 regular season record...Baltimore's rushing attack finished No. 1 in the NFL (191.9 ypg) and produced the third-most yards (3,071) in a 16-game NFL season...Three players – QB Lamar Jackson (1,005), rookie standout RB J.K. Dobbins (805) & RB Gus Edwards (723) – rushed for over 700 yards each, while Jackson became the first QB in NFL history to surpass the 1,000-yard rushing milestone in multiple seasons…Drafted by DeCosta in the second round, Dobbins posted a 6.01 ypc average, which ranked No. 1 among all NFL RBs...CB Marlon Humphrey, whom DeCosta inked to a five-year contract extension in October, led the NFL with a Ravens' single-season record 8 FFs, also registering a team-high 11 PD...Rookie first-round draft pick LB Patrick Queen posted a team-high 105 tackles, while he was also the NFL's only defender with at least 70 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 FFs, 2 FRs, 1 INT and 1 defensive TD. 2019: In his first season as EVP & GM, was named The Sporting News 2019 NFL Executive of the Year...The Ravens produced a franchise-best 14-2 record, earning the AFC's No. 1 playoff seed…Led by unanimous NFL MVP QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore became the first team ever to average 200 passing and 200 rushing yards per game in a season, also setting an NFL single-season rushing record (3,296 yards) and scoring an NFL-high 33.2 points per game...WR Marquise Brown, who DeCosta tabbed with the Ravens' first pick (25th overall), tied a franchise record for most receiving TDs (7) by a rookie...During the offseason, DeCosta signed free agent Pro Bowlers S Earl Thomas III and RB Mark Ingram II – and traded mid-season for standout CB Marcus Peters – all of whom earned All-Star honors again in 2019 as part of Baltimore's NFL-record-tying (Dallas, 2007) 13 players to be named to the Pro Bowl. 2018: TE Hayden Hurst and QB Lamar Jackson were selected in the first round...Jackson led the Ravens to a 6-1 record and AFC North title in the season's final seven games...Six rookies, including standouts Jackson, TE Mark Andrews, T Orlando Brown Jr. and RB Gus Edwards started multiple games. 2017: In the first round, selected CB Marlon Humphrey, who played in all 16 games (five starts) as a rookie...Ravens signed CB Brandon Carr and S Tony Jefferson to bolster the defense in free agency. 2016: Draft picks T Ronnie Stanley (No. 6 overall), G/T Alex Lewis (fourth round) and CB Tavon Young (fourth) earned significant playing time as rookies...Ravens also signed key free agents WR Mike Wallace and S Eric Weddle, who earned his fourth Pro Bowl in his first year as a Raven (earned his fifth and sixth in '17 & '18). 2015: WR Breshad Perriman (first) and TE Maxx Williams (second) were tabbed early in the draft...Also drafted DT Carl Davis (third), OLB Za'Darius Smith (fourth) and TE Nick Boyle (fifth), all of whom made important contributions. 2014: Ravens signed five-time Pro Bowl WR Steve Smith Sr. and RB Justin Forsett, who earned his first Pro Bowl, finishing fifth in the league with a career-best 1,266 rushing yards...Also drafted LB C.J. Mosley, a four-time Pro Bowler and the team's first-ever rookie Pro Bowler. 2013: Ravens signed Pro Bowl OLB Elvis Dumervil, DE Chris Canty and LB Daryl Smith as key free agents...Smith led the Ravens in tackles (123), and Dumervil was second with 9.5 sacks. 2012: Promoted to assistant general manager following the NFL Draft...Strong moves both in free agency and the draft helped Baltimore win Super Bowl XLVII...Free agent WR/RS Jacoby Jones, who earned his first Pro Bowl, rookie free agent K Justin Tucker, and draft picks OLB Courtney Upshaw (second round), G Kelechi Osemele (second round) and RB Bernard Pierce (third round) each made significant contributions en route to the title. 2011: Baltimore signed key free agents FB Vonta Leach, who earned two Pro Bowls with the Ravens (2011-12), and S Bernard Pollard, who started 26 games in two seasons (2011-12)...Team selected CB Jimmy Smith in the first round and standout WR Torrey Smith in the second round. 2010: Ravens traded for Pro Bowl WR Anquan Boldin, added quality veteran free agent DE Cory Redding and strengthened team depth, including TEs Ed Dickson (third round) and Dennis Pitta (fourth round) through the draft. 2009: Promoted to director of player personnel, following six successful seasons as scouting director...Ravens drafted All-Rookie team honoree T Michael Oher (first round) and picked up CB Lardarius Webb in the third round...Also signed free agent K Billy Cundiff, who earned his first Pro Bowl in 2010. 2008: Instrumental in selecting QB Joe Flacco (18th overall), the Super Bowl XLVII MVP, and RB Ray Rice, a three-time Pro Bowler...Also served on the eight-member committee to interview head coach John Harbaugh. 2007: Ravens drafted 2011 Pro Bowl G Ben Grubbs, the team's first-round pick (29th overall), and eight-time Pro Bowl G Marshal Yanda in the third round. 2006: Drafted All-Rookie Team standouts DT Haloti Ngata (12th overall), a five-time Pro Bowler, and S Dawan Landry (fifth round)...Baltimore also selected Pro Bowl P Sam Koch (sixth round). 2005: Selected All-Rookie Team honoree WR Mark Clayton (22nd overall), who had a record-breaking first year in Baltimore, and C/G Jason Brown (fourth round). 2003: Was named director of college scouting...Drafted 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and 2003 Defensive Rookie of the Year OLB Terrell Suggs, a seven-time Pro Bowler. 1998-2002: Was the Ravens' Midwest area scout...Researched and analyzed draft-day trades and evaluated free agent prospects for the pro personnel department...Worked with both college and pro scouting staffs on the draft and free agency. 1998: Was promoted to area scout after spending time in the fall of 1997 scouting the Midwest. 1996: Hired as a personnel intern.
1995: (with Washington) First NFL experience was a training camp internship in Washington's personnel department.
1993-95: (with Trinity College) In a graduate fellowship, DeCosta coached the defensive line and linebackers while earning his master's degree in English. 1993: Was an intern coach for Trinity's wide receivers.
COLLEGE: Earned degrees in English and the classics from Colby, receiving dean's list honors (1990-92)...Was a three-year football letterman and captain at LB...As a senior, was selected as the Millett Award recipient for outstanding athletic contributions over his four years...In 2017, received the Carl Nelson Sports Achievement award, an alumni honor recognizing significant achievement in the athletic world...From 2017-20, served on the Board of Visitors at Colby before joining the Board of Trustees in December of 2020.
PERSONAL: Attended Taunton (MA) HS, where he played FB and LB, earned three varsity letters, and as a senior, was voted team captain...Actively supports a number of different charities throughout the state of Maryland, focusing on children, families, animal welfare and nature conservation...Has assisted with countless fundraisers and charitable events for those organizations...DeCosta spent six years serving as a board member for the Maryland SPCA and is currently an ambassador for the organization...In addition to other board responsibilities, Eric was a celebrity judge at the charity's largest annual fundraiser, the March for the Animals, which raises over $350,000 each year to help support the SPCA's mission to improve the lives of pets and people...Also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Irvine Nature Center, a nonprofit environmental educational center in Owings Mills, MD...From 2010-13, Eric interviewed high school candidates for the Ravens Scholars program…The initiative, which was created in 2010, awards a $5,000 renewable scholarship (up to $20,000 per scholar) to five local high school students each year...In 2005, The Sporting News named DeCosta one of the top young stars in sports, while in 2008, he was selected to both the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Magazine "40 Under 40" group...Eric and his wife, Lacie, have a daughter, Jane Elizabeth (19), who is a sophomore at Penn State, and two sons, Michael Litz (15) and Jackson James (11).