In his 20-plus minute interview this afternoon with The Baltimore Sun, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti defended Ray Rice and Joe Flacco and expressed confidence that his team will return to the playoffs. But he also used the opportunity to reveal two decisions that the organization has made behind the scenes.
Bisciotti said that he gave head coach John Harbaugh a one-year contract extension following the Ravens' 2013 season in which they finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
"The only gesture I could make to John after us not making the playoffs was to extend him and I did when we were in Florida," Bisciotti said on the first official day of the NFL owners' meetings at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes resort. "... When we were down in Florida [for organizational meetings], I just told him, 'I just want you to know that I think just as highly of you after this disappointment,' so I added a year on his contract so he’s back to a four-year deal."
Bisciotti ripped up Harbaugh's existing contract after the team's Super Bowl triumph, giving him a four-year deal that made Harbaugh one of the league's highest paid coaches. He added one more year on the deal two months ago.
Also, Bisciotti confirmed that the Ravens will honor former standout middle linebacker Ray Lewis with a statue that will likely be unveiled outside M&T; Bank Stadium before the start of the 2014 regular regular season.
"We’re going to put it in Unitas Plaza," Bisciotti said.
The organization has hired Fred Kail, who also sculpted the Unitas statue, to do the likeness of Lewis who has also had input in the process.
"He’s well into the statue," said Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' vice president of public and community relations. "We anticipate having an unveiling, possibly even before the season."