Eric DeCosta

Ravens Not Expected To Trade Back Out Of First Round?

Those who have followed the Ravens over the past several years may be a little surprised to hear that, sitting at the back end of the first round, the Ravens are not expected to trade back out of the first round. Team writers Clifton Brown and Ryan Mink noted after a pre-draft press conference this week that it would take a “premium” trade offer for the team to move down.

Trading back was a common practice for former general manager Ozzie Newsome, whether just moving back later into the first round or outside of the first round altogether in order to acquire more draft capital. Eric DeCosta, Newsome’s successor, has taken a bit of the opposite approach, twice trading players to obtain an extra first-round selection. DeCosta has been shown to value the fifth-year option that is standard on the contracts of first-round draft picks much more highly than Newsome did.

The Ravens aren’t in desperate need for more draft picks (they have nine at this point in the process), but the franchise has been notorious for hitting on early-Day Three picks. The team is also known for ignoring positions of need in favor of the “best player available” mentality. If they don’t feel the players available by the time their pick rolls around are worth their draft slot or are “must have” players, Baltimore still may opt to move down. Regardless, DeCosta has hopes that a player ranked in their own top-20 rankings finds their way down to the 30th pick. If not, the team would look for a team willing to give up a good haul to move back into Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

So, what are the Ravens going to be looking for at their draft slot? The team has reportedly been continuously linked to offensive tackles and wide receivers so far in the pre-draft process. While those are positions of need in most people’s eyes, those are also the positions that the team’s analysis tells them will have the most-valuable prospects still around that late in the draft. Proof of that thinking can be found in their approach to a first-round cornerback. Cornerback is also a glaring need for the Ravens, but the depth of the position likely won’t keep the draft’s better cornerbacks available that late into the first round, so Baltimore will focus more on the line and receiving corps.

Another position they may go to at No. 30 overall is edge rusher. The team knows that the top-end pass rushers will not be around late in the first round, so they are doing their homework on the second-tier players at the position. A few of those second-tier guys rank from the 25th to the 45th best prospects on the Ravens’ board, so DeCosta could hope to land one at 30 or 62, depending on the value available.

Lastly, DeCosta told the media that there is a “strong chance” that Baltimore will draft a running back at some point in the draft. The signing of veteran bell-cow Derrick Henry certainly reduced the need to draft a rusher early, but a lack of significant depth at the position makes adding a rookie a likely scenario. The rookie back will join Justice Hill and Keaton Mitchell, coming back from knee surgery, behind Henry on the depth chart.

RBs A Priority For Ravens In Offseason

We noted something similar back in February, but the Ravens have made it clear lately that additions to the running backs group will be a priority in the offseason. Whether that comes through re-signing expiring deals, signing veteran free agents, or pursuing a rookie prospect, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic’s quote from general manager Eric DeCosta says it best: (they) need more than two running backs.

The Ravens have lots of work to do in the coming weeks with expiring contracts all over their 2023 roster, but DeCosta is fully aware of which potential departures leave them most bare. Both former undrafted veteran Gus Edwards and former second-round pick J.K. Dobbins are set to hit free agency this spring, as will late-season addition Dalvin Cook and practice squad backs Melvin Gordon and Owen Wright, though Wright, an undrafted rookie, has signed a futures deal with the team. That leaves only Justice Hill and another undrafted rookie in Keaton Mitchell as the only two running backs with in-game experience on the roster moving forward.

Hill signed a two-year deal a year ago and will now play out the final season of that contract. He had the best season of his career in 2023 but has still failed to surpass 400 rushing yards or 4 touchdowns in a season. He expanded his role this year by adding 206 receiving yards. Mitchell was a pleasant surprise as a rookie, touting an outstanding 8.43 yards per carry average in eight games played. The diminutive back flashed elite speed and play-making ability when healthy, but a torn ACL midway through December leaves the team without their explosive second-year player for likely the entire offseason.

In our previous discussion on the subject, we laid out the cases for Dobbins and Edwards. Dobbins showed incredible upside as a rookie but has since struggled mightily to stay on the field. Edwards had been a reliable short-yardage and goal-line back in the early days of Jackson’s career, backing up Mark Ingram before teaming up with Dobbins and Hill. The big-bodied back with the nickname “Gus the Bus” has six years under his belt but showed no signs of slowing with a career-high 990 scrimmage yards and 13 rushing touchdowns this season. At the NFL scouting combine DeCosta made it known that the organization has not shut the door on the idea of bringing the two back. In fact, DeCosta claimed the team was “hopeful (they) can get something done with those guys,” per Ravens staff writers Clifton Brown and Ryan Mink.

We also explored the idea of free agency in our previous post. There are a number of big names hitting the open market this offseason, and Baltimore has already been connected to a few. Titans bell-cow Derrick Henry has been linked to the team since the days of the trade deadline. Other notable names like the Giants’ Saquon Barkley, the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs, and the Cowboys’ Tony Pollard have been mentioned, as well.

In the draft, there a couple intriguing names to look at like Michigan rusher Blake Corum or Texas running back Jonathon Brooks, but Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen is a name that has been making the rounds in Baltimore. If the team fails to sign any of the above veterans, expect the Ravens to pursue one of these players early in the draft. If a big name puts pen to paper, though, Baltimore will likely be content to take a late-round addition or even peruse the undrafted dregs once again.

Regardless, additions are going to be necessary in 2024. Especially with Mitchell coming back from a serious injury, the team can’t well expect to find success with only him, Hill, and Wright heading into the 2024 NFL season. Whether they bring back Edwards or Dobbins, sign a big-name in free agency like Henry or Barkley, or draft a high-end prospect, somebody will have to join the three currently in the running backs room.

Ravens To Let LB Patrick Queen Hit Open Market?

Two of the Ravens’ Pro Bowl defenders, defensive lineman Justin Madubuike and inside linebacker Patrick Queen, are due to hit free agency next month. As Baltimore appears likely to put the franchise tag on Madubuike, there may not be enough cap room to give Queen the type of contract he would command on the open market, and GM Eric DeCosta recently suggested that Queen would get the chance to see what the market has in store for him.

“Patrick had an amazing season,” DeCosta said at his end-of-season presser, via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (subscription required). “I love Patrick. He’s one of my favorite guys on the team. He’s put himself in a great position, potentially, to hit the market and see what his value is. You never know.”

The Ravens selected Queen in the first round of the 2020 draft. While the LSU product flashed at times during his first several years in the league, he did not truly break out until Baltimore acquired fellow inside ‘backer Roquan Smith at the 2022 trade deadline. With the elite Smith as a running mate, Queen finally began living up to his draft status and excelled down the stretch of the 2022 campaign. Baltimore nonetheless declined the fifth-year option on Queen’s rookie deal, and extension talks between player and team failed to produce an agreement, which led to some frustration on Queen’s part and which turned 2023 into a platform year.

Although Queen was named a trade candidate in the run-up to last year’s draft and over the summer, the Ravens elected to let him finish out his rookie contract, to the benefit of both parties. In 17 games (all starts) in 2023, Queen set a career-high with 133 tackles and graded out as the 23rd-best linebacker in the league (eight spots behind Smith) per Pro Football Focus. In the process, he earned the first Pro Bowl bid of his career and set himself up nicely for a lucrative contract in his first foray into free agency.

Given that the Ravens committed a five-year, $100MM contract to Smith last January, it was always unlikely that they would authorize a contract for Queen commensurate with his market value (which Spotrac estimates is $18.5MM/year). That is especially true given the franchise’s penchant for drafting and developing quality ILB talent, and 2023 third-rounder Trenton Simpson is in line to take over Queen’s role should the latter find a new employer in 2024.

DeCosta obviously did not rule out a reunion with Queen, but unless his market does not develop as expected, the 24-year-old may have played his last snap for the Ravens.

QB Notes: Jets, Jackson, Commanders

Out of football since the 2016 season, Colin Kaepernick continues to pursue a comeback. The exiled quarterback wrote a letter to Jets GM Joe Douglas asking for an opportunity to join the team’s practice squad. The letter, as shared by rapper J. Cole (Instagram link), lays out a number of reasons Kaepernick could assist the Jets while making it clear he would be a Zach Wilson contingency plan. Kaepernick cites his ability to offer the Jets’ defense a look at a mobile QB, referencing the advantage that could provide the unit given the dual-threat starters on the team’s schedule. The letter also includes Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh and Mark Davis being listed as references. While it is unusual to see a document like this surface, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk confirms it is authentic.

Davis’ team gave the 35-year-old QB a workout last summer, and the former 49ers starter questioned the Raiders preferring Jarrett Stidham and Nick Mullens — the team’s backups at the time — to him. Even though Kaepernick indicated he still trains five days a week for a potential comeback, the book is almost definitely closed for his return to the NFL. He would have profiled as a more realistic option during the late 2010s, but since the 2019 workout snafu in Atlanta, connections to teams have been sparse. Shortly after Aaron Rodgers‘ injury, Kaepernick’s agent contacted the Jets, and a subsequent report indicated no interest existed on the team’s part. The Jets have since signed Trevor Siemian to their P-squad.

Here is the latest from the QB landscape:

  • Siemian could dress for the Jets as an emergency third QB, provided he is elevated to the active roster ahead of Saturday’s deadline, but Robert Saleh confirmed (via’s Rich Cimini) the journeyman passer will not be active for Week 4. Wilson and Tim Boyle will be the team’s only active QBs for a third straight game. Siemian has made 30 career starts, including one for the Jets (Week 2, 2019), but could not beat out Jake Browning for the Bengals’ backup job during training camp.
  • It took the Ravens nearly 2 1/2 years to extend Lamar Jackson, but when the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts contract surfaced, GM Eric DeCosta made an earnest effort to finish the process. “We had just signed Odell [Beckham Jr.] and the Hurts deal came out. I thought to myself, ‘Why not try again?’” DeCosta said, via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec (subscription required). “We put some stuff together on paper. There were people who probably weren’t optimistic about our chances. How many players request a trade and then do a long-term deal with their team like a month later? It doesn’t happen very often, but I was optimistic, partly because I know Lamar. I had been with him in Florida. I know what he’s made of and I know what’s important to him.” DeCosta said he had not spoken to Jackson much this offseason, one in which the former MVP requested a trade. The Hurts deal continued to paint the Deshaun Watson fully guaranteed accord as an outlier. Long connected to seeking a fully guaranteed contract, Jackson accepted the Ravens’ offer and signed a five-year, $260MM deal — one that helped shape Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow‘s respective negotiations.
  • Eric Bieniemy going from Patrick Mahomes to a Commanders team planning to go with Sam Howell did not represent a deal-breaker for the five-year Chiefs OC. The new NFC East play-caller joined the Commanders in placing a second-round grade on the North Carolina prospect last year, Albert Breer of notes. A one-time first-round-level prospect prior to a statistical regression as a junior, Howell is off to an uneven start. QBR places the 2022 fifth-rounder 25th through three games, though he has shown some promise early in his QB1 run.

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured GMs

The latest NFL general manager hiring cycle only produced two changes, but each took over for an executive who appeared in good standing at this point last year.

Steve Keim had held his Cardinals GM post since January 2013, and the Cardinals gave both he and Kliff Kingsbury extensions — deals that ran through 2027 — in March of last year. Arizona has since rebooted, moving on from both Keim and Kingsbury. Keim took a leave of absence late last season, and the Cardinals replaced him with ex-Titans exec Monti Ossenfort.

[RELATED: The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches]

As the Cardinals poached one of the Titans’ top front office lieutenants, Tennessee went with an NFC West staffer to replace Jon Robinson. The move to add 49ers FO bastion Ran Carthon also came less than a year after the Titans reached extension agreements with both Robinson and HC Mike Vrabel. But controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk canned Robinson — in place as GM since January 2016 — before last season ended. Adams Strunk cited player unavailability and roster quality among the reasons she chose to move on despite having extended Robinson through the 2027 draft months earlier. The Titans are now pairing Vrabel and Carthon.

The Bills reached an extension agreement with GM Brandon Beane two weeks ago. Hired shortly after the team gave Sean McDermott the HC keys, Beane has helped the Bills to five playoff berths in six seasons. Beane’s deal keeps him signed through 2027. Chargers GM Tom Telesco has hit the 10-year mark leading that front office, while this year also marks the 10th offseason of Buccaneers honcho Jason Licht‘s tenure running the NFC South team. Although Jim Irsay fired Frank Reich and later admitted he reluctantly extended his former HC in 2021, the increasingly active Colts owner has expressed confidence in Chris Ballard.

Here is how the NFL’s GM landscape looks going into the 2023 season:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  5. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010; signed extension in 2021
  6. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010; signed extension in 2022
  7. Les Snead (Los Angeles Rams): February 10, 2012; signed extension in 2022
  8. Tom Telesco (Los Angeles Chargers): January 9, 2013; signed extension in 2018
  9. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014; signed extension in 2021
  10. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016[4]
  11. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017; signed extension in 2020
  12. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017; signed extension in 2021
  13. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017; signed extension in 2023
  14. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017; signed extension in 2020
  15. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018; agreed to extension in 2022
  16. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019
  17. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  18. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  19. Nick Caserio (Houston Texans): January 5, 2021
  20. George Paton (Denver Broncos): January 13, 2021
  21. Scott Fitterer (Carolina Panthers): January 14, 2021
  22. Brad Holmes (Detroit Lions): January 14, 2021
  23. Terry Fontenot (Atlanta Falcons): January 19, 2021
  24. Trent Baalke (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 21, 2021
  25. Martin Mayhew (Washington Commanders): January 22, 2021
  26. Joe Schoen (New York Giants): January 21, 2022
  27. Ryan Poles (Chicago Bears): January 25, 2022
  28. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (Minnesota Vikings): January 26, 2022
  29. Dave Ziegler (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  30. Omar Khan (Pittsburgh Steelers): May 24, 2022
  31. Monti Ossenfort (Arizona Cardinals): January 16, 2023
  32. Ran Carthon (Tennessee Titans): January 17, 2023


  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Although Grier was hired in 2016, he became the Dolphins’ top football exec on Dec. 31, 2018

Latest On Ravens’ Draft Approach

Ravens fans are all too familiar with the old Ozzie Newsome effect on the first round of the draft. While the fanbase often clamored for offensive weapons for Joe Flacco, Newsome continuously left them wanting.

From 2010-2014, Newsome used Baltimore’s top picks on linebacker Sergio Kindle, cornerback Jimmy Smith, linebacker Courtney Upshaw, safety Matt Elam, and linebacker C.J. Mosley. He followed it up with two swings in 2015, using the team’s first- and second-round picks on wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end Maxx Williams, respectively, but neither pick lived up to their draft stock.

Newsome shocked the world in his last draft as general manager of the Ravens back in 2018, using the team’s first four picks on offensive players Lamar Jackson, Hayden Hurst, Orlando Brown, and Mark Andrews. Since his departure, his successor, Eric DeCosta, has gone for a bit more balance, drafting each an offensive and a defensive player with the team’s top two picks each year, usually trying to add offensive weapons for Jackson like wide receiver Marquise Brown, running back J.K. Dobbins, and wide receiver Rashod Bateman.

The same is expected for Thursday, as the Ravens are reportedly “focused on adding playmakers” for Jackson, in an attempt to prove their intentions of keeping him around, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN. Many expect this to mean a wide receiver. Baltimore, as usual, has an impressive collection of tight ends in Andrews and second-year players Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar.

They also are expected to return a healthy 1-2 punch of J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, both of whom have helped lead one of the league’s best rushing attacks alongside Jackson. It should be noted, though, that Graziano’s comment about adding playmakers was in reference to Texas running back Bijan Robinson. He believes that, if Robinson begins to slide further and further back in the first round towards the Ravens’ No. 22 pick, DeCosta may make a move to trade up and nab another playmaker to support Jackson.

On the other side of the spectrum, Jason La Canfora of The Washington Post confirms that the Ravens are looking to trade in the draft, he just believes it will happen in the opposite direction. La Canfora bluntly states, “The Ravens are shopping this pick.” Granted his mock draft has them trading back one spot to No. 23, he could still be right about the team’s intentions.

Trading back out of the first round was a staple of the Newsome era, usually as a way to acquire more draft capital, something the Ravens lack after the Roquan Smith trade and a move up in last year’s draft to select tackle Daniel Faalele. While DeCosta hasn’t recently shown the same affinity for middle-round draft pick acquisitions, this may be the perfect time for DeCosta to steal a move from his old mentor.

As for what the Ravens would look for when shopping the pick, there’s two likely possibilities. The first of which is congruent with their current needs. If they still desire a young cornerback, there are strong second- or third-round options at the position like South Carolina’s duo of Darius Rush and Cam Smith or Miami’s Tyrique Stevenson.

The second option is a result of this year’s talent-pool. It’s been no secret that the 2023 draft class is not considered especially deep. The Ravens may have the intention of selling their top pick this year in order to acquire much more capital for a draft next year that is projected to have a bit more talent.

With the draft officially less that 24 hours away, we won’t have long to wait and see what happens. Whether Baltimore follows old Newsome tactics of taking the best player available regardless of position, taking a defensive player like a cornerback to replace free agent Marcus Peters, trading back, or even if they take Jackson’s contract negotiations into consideration and go after weapons for the young quarterback, there are options aplenty.

Latest On Odell Beckham Jr., Lamar Jackson

The Ravens held newly signed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.‘s introductory press conference today, in which Beckham spoke for nearly 40 minutes on what brought him to Baltimore, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN. During Beckham’s introduction to Charm City, the media even got a short update on the situation surrounding quarterback Lamar Jackson from both Beckham and general manager Eric DeCosta.

The biggest headline from Beckham pertained to the former MVP as Beckham confirmed that he had received no assurances that Jackson would be back at quarterback. Beckham told reporters that “the goal was to come (to Baltimore) and have that possibility to play with (Jackson).” He said he would let DeCosta take care of business but made sure to stare straight down the cameras and say, “Lamar, if you’re watching, I would love to get to work with you.”

Beckham spoke to the other factors that lured him to Baltimore, citing team owner Steve Bisciotti as having played a big role. Bisciotti reportedly reached out to Beckham and said all the right things. Between Bisciotti, his former offensive coordinator Todd Monken, and some recruitment from Jackson and other players, Beckham claims it wasn’t money that drew him to the Ravens but a true belief from both parties that he was a piece that could help them win.

Lastly, Beckham discussed perhaps the biggest item of concern for the upcoming season: his health. After sitting out all of the 2022 season due to his ACL injuries, Beckham was hesitant to commit to attending organized team activities this offseason, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports. He minimized the importance of OTAs, indicating that his main focus was returning to the field on Sundays.

Pertaining to Beckham’s performance on Sundays, we finally have some details on the $3MM of incentives in his new deal. According to Florio, Beckham can earn an extra $1MM for each of three categories: receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. For receptions, the incentive progresses as follows: $250,000 for 30 receptions, $500,000 for 40, $750,000 for 50, and $1MM for 60. For receiving yards, the incentive progresses as follows: $250,000 for 250 yards, $500,000 for 500, $750,000 for 750, and $1MM for 1,000. For receiving touchdowns, the incentive progresses as follows: $250,000 for three touchdowns, $500,000 for five, $750,000 for seven, and $1MM if he catches nine scores or leads the team in receiving touchdowns.

We got some comments from DeCosta, as well, in the press conference today. The fifth-year general manager explained that the team had been in talks with Beckham since last October. The team sent assistant wide receivers coach Keith Williams to Beckham’s workout in March and talked to Beckham at the owners’ meetings in Arizona.

“This was the guy that we felt could help take us to the next level,” DeCosta told the media. “We’ve had lots of players come back from this type of injury and flourish over time.” He continued, “We went into it knowing we were the underdogs (to the Jets), and…sometimes the underdog wins.”

In reference to Jackson, DeCosta claimed that he hadn’t spoken with the quarterback since signing Beckham but has communicated with Jackson since his trade request and franchise tagging, declining to relay any details.

“Lamar’s in our plans; we love Lamar,” DeCosta said. “Our feelings about Lamar have not changed one bit since the end of the season. We’re hopeful still that we’ll get a long-term deal done. He’s the right player for this team to lead us to where we want to be. I think the locker room knows that, the organization knows that. I think the fan base knows that. So it’s ongoing. But I can’t think of a situation where we wouldn’t think that our best team is with Lamar Jackson on the team in September.”

Even past Jackson’s participation in the recruitment of Beckham to Baltimore, Jackson and Beckham further commingled after the Ravens signed Beckham on Sunday night. The two went out to dinner together in Miami before being seen at a club later that night. Many viewed Beckham’s addition to the team as a positive step towards Jackson’s return to the Ravens. While that hasn’t been guaranteed, Beckham sure hopes he has Jackson throwing passes to him in 2023.

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Rudolph, Ravens

The Bengals will have some important financial decisions to make in the coming months. Quarterback Joe Burrow is eyeing a sizable pay day on his first NFL extension, but the organization will also have to make important decisions on wideout Tee Higgins and linebacker Logan Wilson.

Naturally, the front office is hoping they’ll be able to retain their entire core. Speaking to reporters the other day, Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn stated that the organization would like to re-sign all of their notable extension-eligible players, and she added that Burrow’s impending contract shouldn’t impact the status of players like Higgins or Wilson.

“They’re all great guys that we love having and want to have for a while on our team,” she said (via Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer). “So just a process that always plays out how it plays out however it plays out we’ll be looking at all of the options and alternatives and thinking about what we might be able to get done.”

Wilson, a 2020 third-round pick, has emerged as one of Cincy’s most reliable defenders. He’s started all 28 of his regular season appearances over the past two years, collecting 223 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles. Considering the organization’s eventual investment in their offense, it makes sense that they’d want to retain one of their defensive leaders.

Meanwhile, many have wondered if the Bengals will be able to afford both Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase, who is eligible for an extension next offseason. Blackburn noted that the front office has time on their side as they look to fit in extensions for their key players, but she also hinted that the team’s ability to re-sign the two wide receivers will be dependent on the players themselves.

“We’ll find out,” Blackburn responded when asked if the Bengals could afford both receivers. “You know it, there are so many things that come into play. So, we’ll just play it by ear as we go and do our best to see where we can get to.”

More notes out of the AFC North…

  • The Steelers have Kenny Pickett and Mitchell Trubisky atop their quarterbacks depth chart, but the front office could continue to add to the position. According to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, the organization would like to add a developmental quarterback to the mix. As the writer notes, that QB would likely be added via the draft, although he notes that the organization could choose to bring back Mason Rudolph, who is still only 27.
  • The Ravens are currently armed with the 22nd pick in the draft, but it remains to be seen if they’ll end up making a selection at that point in the draft. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes that the Ravens are probably more likely to trade back than they are to make a selection at No. 22. The Ravens only have five picks in the upcoming draft, and while the front office may state publicly that they’re fine with the lack of selections, Zrebiec opines that they’ll be hunting for more picks. General manager Eric DeCosta previously hinted that the organization could be looking to make a trade in the first round. “We’ve got five picks. We wish we had more,” the GM said (via Zrebiec). “Our goal is probably to get more along the way if we can, depending on how things fall. But we see a great opportunity for us to add some quality players and be a better football team.”
  • There have been a few coaching changes in the division. James Urban, who was previously the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach, and Craig Ver Steeg, who was Baltimore’s running backs coach, have been reassigned to senior football analyst/game-planning roles, per Zrebiec. The team also switched Keith Williams from pass game specialist to assistant wide receivers coach. Meanwhile, the Steelers announced that they’ve hired Glenn Thomas to be an offensive assistant coach. Thomas brings more than 20 years of coaching experience in both college and the NFL.

Latest On Ravens, QB Lamar Jackson

The Ravens appear to be putting forth maximum effort towards extending star quarterback Lamar Jackson. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta went down to South Florida to meet with Jackson in an attempt to further negotiations.

DeCosta reportedly left Miami with work to be done, as Pelissero claims the two sides remain on track for a franchise tag. The two parties have been the subject of much speculation, and after a year of negotiations, no consensus has been reached on a long-term deal. Former general manager and current Ravens executive vice president/player personnel Ozzie Newsome spoke on the subject today and seemed to confirm Pelissero’s assessment, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

“Today and up until 3:30 tomorrow, a lot of energy will be utilized in trying to get a deal done,” Newsome said on “The Bernie Kosar Show.” “If not, we will put the franchise tag on him.”

Baltimore has not utilized the franchise tag since using it in 2020 told hold on to pass rusher Matt Judon, but with Jackson’s status as a Raven hanging in the balance, the team seems fated to go that route again. The biggest question following “will Jackson be a Raven and how” is currently “which franchise tag with they use?”

If the Ravens administer the non-exclusive tag, it will allow other teams to negotiate potential deals with Jackson, presenting Baltimore with the option to match the offer or refuse it and be awarded two first-round picks as compensation. It’s difficult to imagine any offer another team would put up that the Ravens wouldn’t match, so it’s a dangerous route that could bite them. The exclusive franchise tag would restrict Jackson from participating in such negotiations but would allow him to hold out all the way up until the regular season if a new deal is not reached, a la Jessie Bates or, even worse, Le’Veon Bell.

Regardless of which decision the Ravens have in mind, they’re still going to give Jackson’s extension the old college try. As hopeless as it may seem, Newsome, DeCosta, and company will be working up until the finish line in an attempt to keep Jackson in black and purple long-term.

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Lamar, Steelers

In a press conference this past Thursday, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta spoke to the future of several Ravens players as the team heads into the offseason. Although the free agency of quarterback Lamar Jackson is obviously the main headline of Baltimore’s offseason, DeCosta still has plenty on his plate from key free agents like cornerback Marcus Peters and offensive guard Ben Powers to veterans flirting with retirement like defensive tackle Calais Campbell.

Peters is headed towards free agency this offseason after three seasons in Baltimore. The Ravens have been fairly top-heavy at the cornerback position in the past few years with Peters and Marlon Humphrey. They invested some draft capital in the position last year, selecting rookies Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams, but due to experience and injuries, they were still forced to rely on contributions from the likes of Daryl Worley and Kevon Seymour. The team signed free agent Kyle Fuller in the offseason, but a Week 1 knee injury knocked him out for the year. DeCosta hinted that the team will continue to try and add more talent at cornerback regardless of whether or not they are able to re-sign Peters.

Powers continued his play this year as a full-time starter and had his best NFL season in a contract year. He may follow the likes of former Ravens’ linemen like Ryan Jensen and Kelechi Osemele, who priced themselves out of a new contract in Baltimore in the past.

The Ravens were able to sign trade acquisition Roquan Smith to a long-term deal and now are faced with the contract situation of fellow linebacker Patrick Queen. Queen’s play elevated substantially while playing alongside Smith and has the Ravens considering his future going into this offseason. DeCosta said he isn’t ready to announce that they will pick up Queen’s fifth-year option, but he made sure to clarify that Smith’s contract won’t preclude them from signing Queen long-term.

Lastly, the Ravens have two esteemed veterans that could consider hanging up their cleats. Campbell mulled retirement last season and will likely kick the idea around a bit once again this offseason. Pass rusher Justin Houston is under contract for another season but could potentially call it a career. He stated recently that he does intend to keep playing, and both athletes met with DeCosta before leaving town for the offseason.

Here are a few more rumors from around the AFC North, starting with the main storyline for the offseason in Charm City:

  • Ryan Clark referenced a debate on ESPN’s first take recently about the details of offers made to Jackson. A source provided knowledge that the Ravens’ initial offer had $113MM in guaranteed money and that offer was eventually upped to $133MM. That guaranteed amount doesn’t come anywhere close to Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s $230MM guaranteed contract, but the second offer would be the most guaranteed money to any quarterback in the NFL besides Watson.
  • The Steelers’ coaching staff is set to undergo some changes this offseason. According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one coach on his way out is assistant wide receivers coach Blaine Stewart who is set to join the staff at West Virginia University. Stewart’s father, Bill, served as head coach of the Mountaineers from 2008-10.
  • The Buccaneers parted ways with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich at the end of this season. The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly speculated that, unless Leftwich finds work elsewhere as an offensive play caller, the former Steelers quarterback could find a role as an offensive assistant on Mike Tomlin‘s staff. Kaboly posits that a role as senior offensive assistant/passing-game coordinator could be in play for Leftwich. Leftwich would essentially be a coordinator-in-waiting as current offensive coordinator Matt Canada is in the final year of his contract.