As other teams prepare for the playoffs, hire head coaches or try to finalize their coaching staffs, the Ravens have had a quiet week. However, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said that the team's brain trust, which includes team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta and senior vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty, has been plenty busy ahead of this weekend's organizational meetings.

"It's not like we're taking a break," Harbaugh said at the "Finding Your Path" leadership conference at SECU Arena in Towson yesterday. Harbaugh shared the stage with Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "It's an opportunity to get going looking at college tape, looking at free-agent tape, looking at the salary cap with Pat and Ozzie and Dick Cass and Eric DeCosta and preparing for the meeting this weekend."


Harbaugh and Ravens top executives will be traveling this weekend to owner Steve Bisciotti's Jupiter, Fla., home. It has become an annual trip for Harbaugh and company as team officials formulate the offseason game plan and review the key issues affecting the team.

Harbaugh told a group of reporters yesterday that included The Sun's Peter Schmuck that he's "really excited" for this year's meetings.

"Steve is such a creative, outside-of-the-box thinker. He's going to challenge us in every direction. He's going to push the envelope," Harbaugh said. "He's going to suggest things that just kind of make you scratch your head because he wants to push the thinking and, to me, that's what a great leader does. So, I just can't wait to get down there and go to work."

Harbaugh acknowledged that the organizational meetings are not all business, but that's certainly the focus.

"It's a beautiful setting and it's great weather and the house is awesome and [Bisciotti's wife] Renee does a great job of looking after us, and then Steve sets in," Harbaugh said. "Then we get started on the work part of it. But really, it's in a great way, because he pushes the envelope and he wants to find every single possible way to help us be better. If you can't get excited about that, you should be doing something else."

The Ravens' top officials have plenty to discuss after a disappointing 5-11 season. The organization has to figure out the best way to approach quarterback Joe Flacco's contract, which carries a $28.55 million salary cap hit next season.

There's the question of how many of the Ravens' own free agents, a group potentially headed by offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, kicker Justin Tucker and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw, they can afford to keep. And then there are holes at wide receiver, left tackle, outside linebacker and cornerback that the Ravens will have to address this offseason. The draft – the Ravens pick sixth overall – will obviously remain a focus.

After a bitterly disappointing 2015 season, this is one of the most important offseasons in franchise history. And this weekend's meetings for the Ravens feel like the unofficial start of it.

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