It’s been nearly two weeks since Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti met with reporters and put a date on the team’s long-established general manager succession plan. It will be next offseason when Eric DeCosta officially takes over for Ozzie Newsome.
Bisciotti was asked only one other question about the arrangement during his State of the Ravens address. There was a lot of ground to cover with Bisciotti, who rarely does interviews, and I’m not sure the Newsome news and its significance had completely set in yet to those in the audience at the Under Armour Performance Center.
There will surely be other times and places to ask questions. Newsome is expected to speak to reporters this month at the NFL scouting combine. Newsome and DeCosta have both been traditionally available at a news conference before the draft.
I’d like to know:
» What will Newsome’s exact role be going forward?
» Will the Ravens hire an assistant general manager from the outside to work with DeCosta or will they promote from within, giving George Kokinis, Vince Newsome or maybe even Scott Cohen bigger roles?
» As coach John Harbaugh heads into a potentially critical season for his future in Baltimore, what’s his relationship like with DeCosta — it’s presumed to be good — and will there be any temptation for DeCosta to start fresh next offseason and pair himself with a new coach? Or is that mostly Bisciotti’s decision anyway?
» Given the influence DeCosta already has in the front office, how will a DeCosta-led draft be different from one led by Newsome?
» Will the GM change coincide with a drastic shake-up of the scouting and evaluation staff?
» And finally, is there any chance that if the Ravens bottom out in 2018 Bisciotti could scrap his plans and totally clean house?
These are all fair and pertinent questions. Some can’t be answered now. But it’s fair to say there’s still a good deal of ambiguity about how this will all work out.
More receivers will be available
That it’s expected to be a poor free-agent wide receiver market has been a common refrain in this space, and it could get even worse if Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson or Sammy Watkins get the franchise tag. But it could get a little better before the market officially opens March 14.
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal wrote a story Tuesday examining potential AFC salary cap cuts and it included Jeremy Maclin and a few other receivers who could become available to the Ravens in the coming weeks. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ Allen Hurns was listed as a strong candidate for release. The Denver Broncos’ Emmanuel Sanders was listed as a potential “X-factor,” and the Oakland Raiders’ Michael Crabtree was labeled “on the bubble.”
Rosenthal’s NFC list comes out Wednesday. It wouldn’t surprise me if Brandon Marshall, Tavon Austin (Dunbar), Randall Cobb and Travis Benjamin are among the receivers on it.
Ten quick thoughts
1) The NFL Network ranked the top 10 games of the 2017 season, and the Ravens’ 39-38 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 10 was fifth. The game will be replayed on the network at 4 p.m. today, but I’m guessing Ravens fans have no interest in reliving it.
2) Of the 13 receivers taken in the first round since 2015, the Raiders’ Amari Cooper is the only one to make a Pro Bowl. I’m not sure it’s a bad thing that there might not be a worthy receiver to take if the Ravens stay in the 16th slot.
3) If you criticize the Ravens for not taking draft risks on players with character flags, do you not now have to praise them for bypassing the San Francisco 49ers’ Reuben Foster, who was arrested Sunday for the second time this offseason and is now facing domestic violence charges?
4) I’ve written about how the Ravens would be wise to add some more speed defensively in the middle of the field, but I think safety Chuck Clark and linebacker Bam Bradley are two players who could have significant roles in 2018.
5) My guess is the Ravens would at least be tempted if an edge rusher they like is available in the middle or late rounds, but I just don’t see how there will be enough to snaps for anybody else beyond Terrell Suggs, Matthew Judon, Za’Darius Smith, Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams.
6) Usually, the wackiest of internet speculation and “out there” rumors wait until the NFL news cycle goes mostly quiet in late June/early July. But it came early this year with the Johnny Manziel-Ravens talk.
7) Between his arrest in the “cellphone incident,” his stated desire for the Ravens to draft quarterback Baker Mayfield and his recent lobbying for Manziel, it’s certainly been an interesting offseason for cornerback Marlon Humphrey.
8) For those who are suggesting that the Ravens should persuade right tackle Austin Howard and cornerback Brandon Carr to take pay cuts, it’s worth mentioning that it’s not a very good free-agent class at both offensive tackle and cornerback. What’s the incentive for them to take a pay cut to stay when they could probably get as much if not more money elsewhere?
9) The onus will be on Harbaugh and his staff to make sure an extra preseason game and another week of practice because of the Hall of Fame Game doesn’t lead to injuries and veterans wearing down. Theoretically, more repetitions and opportunities for young players should be a good thing.
10) I probably say and write some version of this every year at this time, but if four quarterbacks — Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Mayfield and Josh Allen — go within the top 15 picks, and that seems like a possibility, you’d have to like the Ravens’ chances of landing a player who normally wouldn’t be around at pick 16.