In an Instagram post on Thursday night not long after putting his name on a five-year, $58.5 million contract with the Oakland Raiders, Kelechi Osemele thanked the Ravens organization, the city of Baltimore, owner Steve Bisciotti and his teammates.
But moments earlier during a conference call with reporters, Osemele appeared to take a shot at his old team, suggesting that the Ravens don't appreciate the offensive line.
Asked what made him want to sign with the Raiders, Osemele said, "They have a really up-and-coming young team. That was sold to me a lot. Going through the roster, I kind of saw what everybody was saying, and the emphasis on building the offensive line, coming from a place where [it's] not really appreciated, you know? Coming to a team where offensive line play is a focus and it matters and they want to build that up, that was a big factor."
Osemele is an emotional, standup guy and he has no problem telling you how he feels. But his comments are interesting, given the focus the Ravens have put on building their offensive line in recent years.
The Ravens traded for left tackle Eugene Monroe during the 2013 season and signed him to a five-year, $37.5 million deal following the year. The Ravens drafted Osemele in the second round in 2012, and starting right tackle Rick Wagner in the fifth round in 2013. The team traded for center Jeremy Zuttah before the 2014 season and signed him to a five-year, $18 million contract. The Ravens also agreed to a five-year, $34 million contract with Marshal Yanda in October, making the perennial Pro Bowl selection one of the top-paid guards in the NFL.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said late last month that the team had made an "aggressive" offer to retain Osemele, who started as a rookie on the Super Bowl-winning team and played right tackle, left guard and left tackle during his time with the Ravens. However, the Ravens didn't come close to what Osemele got in Oakland.
He's now the highest-paid guard in the history of the NFL.
"It's been really exciting," Osemele said on the conference call. "Being one of the first ones to agree to terms and see the fan base just go crazy. Then to see more guys join the team and see the fans engage even more. It's been exciting to see. I've never really seen a fan base like this that has responded in such a big way to welcoming new players. That definitely makes it easier for you to go out there and do your job. It's been great."
Later, though, Osemele had plenty of nice things to say about the Ravens in an Instagram post.
"I want to take this time to Thank the City of Baltimore, The Ravens Organization, The Bisciotti family, My Ravens teammates as well as all of the Ravens fans for all the support they gave my teammates and me while I was in the great city of Baltimore," he wrote. "I was blessed to experience the pinnacle achievement in the NFL when we won the Super Bowl my rookie year and have been chasing that high ever since. I can never thank the Ravens enough for taking a chance on a kid out of Iowa State that critics said was too soft to play in the NFL because he was raised in a house full of women. I hope I was able to prove them wrong through my hard work and determination on the field and wish the Ravens and the City of Baltimore nothing but the best in the future! Thanks for all the memories!!!"