PALM BEACH, Fla. — After a two-year interruption, the NFL owners meetings are back on the league’s offseason schedule this week.
For the first time since 2019, the NFL will hold its annual summit, where its top officials, team owners, general managers and head coaches will meet to discuss league matters. Owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Eric DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh headline the Ravens’ contingent in South Florida.
With Harbaugh’s news conference scheduled for Monday morning and Bisciotti expected to speak Tuesday afternoon, his first media session in years, a pivotal Ravens offseason will come under the microscope once more. Here’s what to expect from Palm Beach.
The last time Bisciotti met with reporters, quarterback Lamar Jackson was still nearly three months from being drafted. So, yeah, it’s been a while since the early-February 2018 news conference where Bisciotti announced that then-assistant general manager Eric DeCosta would succeed general manager Ozzie Newsome after the 2018 season.
A lot has changed in the four years since, but not Biscotti’s reluctance to hold a “State of the Ravens” address after the season, as he used to. His most recent extensive public comments came in May 2019, when he answered questions from season-ticket holders in an hourlong conference call.
On Tuesday, however, Bisciotti’s expected to meet with local reporters. Among the Ravens-related topics that will likely come up:
- How committed are the Ravens to Jackson? Contract talks with the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player have been slow to develop, and in the year since the franchise could first offer an extension, the price for top-tier quarterbacks has only gone up. Deshaun Watson’s new five-year deal with the Cleveland Browns is worth $230 million, all of it guaranteed, the most in a single contract in NFL history by $80 million. Jackson is entering the final year of his rookie contact and will make $23 million in 2022. The cost of an “exclusive” franchise tag next offseason would be the average of the NFL’s five highest quarterback salaries, a huge raise.
- What’s the state of the Ravens’ leadership? Harbaugh, entering the final year of a four-year deal after a 2021 season derailed by injuries, has been expected to sign a contract extension. DeCosta is negotiating a long-term deal with Jackson that would be by far the biggest in franchise history. And new team president Sashi Brown is stepping into a role that Dick Cass, Bisciotti’s right-hand man, has held since 2004. For a franchise that’s long been among the NFL’s most stable, this offseason could be transformative.
- What’s on Bisciotti’s to-do list? The Ravens have already started discussions with the Maryland Stadium Authority on a new stadium lease, which wouldn’t be renewed until after the 2027 season. The team has looked into further upgrades to M&T Bank Stadium, including additional lower-bowl premium seating and easier access to the developing Warner Street corridor. Bisciotti, who turns 62 in April, has not indicated he plans to sell the team or outlined a succession plan. But stadium situations figure prominently into all franchise sales.
Harbaugh hasn’t met with reporters since defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s introductory news conference in early February, a nearly two-month stretch during which the Ravens have had right tackle Alejandro Villanueva retire; released cornerback Tavon Young; signed safety Marcus Williams, right tackle Morgan Moses and defensive tackle Michael Pierce; and re-signed fullback Patrick Ricard.
The Ravens also finalized their coaching staff in that period, hiring Zach Orr as inside linebackers coach, George Godsey as tight ends coach, Rob Leonard as outside linebackers coach, Mike Devlin as assistant offensive line coach and Ryan Osborn as a defensive quality-control coach. The Ravens named Adrian Dixon their new head athletic trainer as well, replacing Ron Medlin, who transitioned into a new role on the training staff.
With DeCosta not expected to meet with reporters — he spoke at the team’s March 17 pressers introducing Williams and Moses — Harbaugh will field questions about the Ravens’ recent on- and off-field changes. Inside linebacker Bobby Wagner’s reported visit to Baltimore has raised the possibility of another big-name signing, and several prominent free agents with Ravens ties, including defensive lineman Calais Campbell, remain unsigned.
Injury updates will also be of interest. Jackson, sidelined for the Ravens’ final four games last season by a bone bruise in his ankle, has resumed throwing and looked comfortable in footage he’s shared on social media. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle), running backs J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Gus Edwards (knee), outside linebackers Odafe Oweh (shoulder) and Tyus Bowser (Achilles tendon), and cornerbacks Marcus Peters (knee) and Marlon Humphrey (pectoral) are among the other Ravens rehabilitating injuries.
There’s plenty of intrigue around the NFL, too, from Watson’s controversial arrival in Cleveland, now the AFC North favorite, to the upgraded AFC to the ramp-up for next month’s draft.
The NFL’s overtime rules are again under consideration, but it’s unclear whether the league’s owners will agree with either of the two proposals.
The Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles have proposed an amendment that guarantees both teams an overtime possession before moving to sudden death. If one team has more points after both teams have had the ball, that team wins.
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The Tennessee Titans, meanwhile, proposed that both teams possess the ball unless the team that has the first possession scores a touchdown and converts a 2-point attempt.
Under the NFL’s current overtime rules, which were adopted in 2010, the team that possesses the ball first can win the game if it scores a sudden-death touchdown on its opening drive. If not, any go-ahead score wins the game.
Rule changes need approval from 24 of 32 teams to be enacted. NFL competition committee chairman Rich McKay said in a conference call Friday that “there’s a lot of momentum” for changing the rules.
“My history on this rule tells me that 24 votes is not easy to get,” McKay said. “But I do think the statistics absolutely warrant an examination of whether our overtime rules need to be further modified.”
After a dramatic postseason, there’s growing support for an overhaul. The Kansas City Chiefs’ AFC divisional-round win over the Buffalo Bills headed to overtime after three scores in the final 62 seconds of regulation. But the Chiefs won the coin toss to start overtime, and a 75-yard touchdown drive ended the Bills’ season before they could possess the ball.
There’s no indication that the Ravens have submitted a new proposal to the competition committee. Last year, their “spot and choose” proposals received limited support from owners. Under their plans, one team spots the ball on the field for the start of an overtime period. The opponent then chooses whether to start on offense or defense from that spot. The Ravens proposed two time formats for their amendment: sudden death or timed (7 minutes, 30 seconds).
The Ravens have also joined the Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Bills in a proposal to amend the NFL’s anti-tampering policy, allowing teams to keep their secondary personnel staffers through the draft. Under their plan, teams could deny a front-office official permission to interview for secondary executive positions — jobs below the role of general manager — with another organization until after the draft.