Add Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to the list of interested observers hoping free-agent defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will bring his talents to Baltimore.
“I hope McCoy wants us,” he said Wednesday evening in a telephone question-and-answer session with holders of Ravens personal seat licenses. “I hope Gerald McCoy goes home and tells his wife he wants to be with the Ravens.”
Bisciotti said he’s not eager to spend the team’s remaining budget on a single free agent but suggested McCoy, whom he met earlier in the day, could be worth the stretch.
“Do I think he’s a need?” the Ravens owner said. “I think he’s a bit of a game-wrecker. … In this day and age, I think you need that kind of pressure from inside.”
Bisciotti did not hold his customary “State of the Ravens” press conference after last season, so these were his most extensive public remarks since the team returned to the playoffs after a three-year absence and since he signed coach John Harbaugh to a contract extension.
In a broad-ranging hour, he addressed everything from McCoy’s two-day visit with the Ravens to Lamar Jackson’s development as a franchise quarterback.
Building around Jackson
Despite considerable offseason turnover, Bisciotti said he doesn’t see glaring holes in the team’s 2019 roster.
He’s as intrigued as the fans to find out what Jackson will do this season, now that the team has surrounded the second-year quarterback with a bevy of fast draft picks, led by wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown.
“In order to make him grow, we had to put some speed around him,” he said.
He added that fans should not expect the same run-first quarterback this season. “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see Lamar not running 20 times a game,” he said. “That’s not what this offense is about.”
Bisciotti was asked about his long-term vision for the franchise and said Jackson will be the key. “Everything falls to Lamar,” he said. “We believe in him. We believe he can be great. He desires to be great.”
When asked about upgrading the offensive line, Bisciotti praised the Ravens’ young blockers, but said he was especially pleased with right guard Marshal Yanda’s decision to sign an extension and play in 2019.
“I really thought Marshal was pretty close to calling it a career,” he said.
Rebuilding the defense
Bisciotti faced many questions about the team’s rebuilt defense, which lost stalwarts such as Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley in free agency and released veteran Eric Weddle.
He said the Ravens could not afford to match the New York Jets’ “shocking” free-agent offer to Mosley, though he was thrilled for the Pro Bowl middle linebacker. “It’s something C.J. deserves,” he said. “I think the world of him.”
He expressed confidence that fourth-year linebacker Patrick Onwuasor could step in to Mosely’s signal-calling role in the middle of the defense. “I think if you gave him the microphone … I think he’s ready to do it,” he said.
He said he’ll miss Suggs’ outspoken presence not just at games but at practices, where the veteran linebacker often swiped the owner’s golf cart.
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“This is a business,” Bisciotti said. “It comes down to money, and I know we were close when we were trying to get Sizzle locked up. The Arizona Cardinals wanted him bad enough that they outbid us.”
Browns rising; NFL draft in Baltimore?
Like everyone else around the NFL, Ravens fans seemed interested in discussing the suddenly star-laden Cleveland Browns.
“I think Cleveland’s got a lot going for them,” Bisciotti said of his AFC North rival. “They certainly, on paper, are a lot better team.”
He also reflected on a “great day” at the team’s headquarters in Owings Mills, where he announced a few hours earlier that former defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and Super Bowl-winning coach Brian Billick would join the Ravens’ Ring of Honor.
“I don’t know what the Ravens are if he doesn’t do what he did,” he said of Billick, who will be inducted during the 2019 season. Ngata, who retired as a Raven on Wednesday, will follow in 2020.
In other off-field business, a fan asked if Baltimore might host the NFL draft, which has moved from city to city in recent years. Bisciotti said he hasn’t examined the possibility in depth, but did not rule it out.
“I would love to look into it,” he said.