As the NFL’s free agent frenzy was cranking up, Don Banks of Sports Illustrated and SI.com ranked what he believes are the best front offices in football.
In his article “Calling the shots – NFL’s 12 best front offices,” Banks put together his top 12 list of NFL decision-makers.
At the very top of the list?
Your Baltimore Ravens.
This isn’t just a case of to the winners go the spoils. Only the newly minted Super Bowl champion Ravens have gone to the playoffs in each of the past five seasons, and Baltimore has even won at least one postseason game every year during that span. Simply put, the front office that Ozzie Newsome has led since the franchise relocated from Baltimore in 1996 has been a blueprint for success over most of that span. The Ravens won with defense in 2000 and for many years after that, and now they’re winning with offense, with Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco taking on the reins of leadership as Ray Lewis exits stage left. That’s the kind of versatility and adaptability every franchise covets for it roster.
As we just learned again Monday, the Ravens don’t get overly sentimental about their weighty personnel decisions. They traded playoff-run star Anquan Boldin when he wouldn’t play ball with them on the salary cap, and they might watch starters like Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger and Bryant McKinnie follow him out the door. But Baltimore has lost quality players before and prospered (guard Ben Grubbs and outside linebacker Jarret Johnson in free agency just last year) and they won’t sentence themselves to salary cap hell in order to avoid it. They had to get Flacco re-signed without franchising him this offseason, and they did. Everything after that fell under the heading of optional move. With another Lombardi in the trophy case, Newsome can afford to be more patient than ever. His legacy secure, his eventual replacement already on hand in the highly regarded Eric DeCosta, the team’s assistant GM, Newsome can focus on keeping the NFL’s best personnel department on task and running smoothly.
The rest of the list went as follows:
2. Green Bay
3. New York Giants
4. New England
7. San Francisco
12. New Orleans
So, as your sitting at home watching your friends and family freak out all over Facebook as another player from the Ravens’ Super Bowl squad of 2012 leaves the Nest (Oh, hey, there goes Bernard Pollard! Didn’t see that one coming…), rest easy knowing that there really IS a plan at The Castle.
Just because we don’t know what it is yet – and we may not know until August or September – doesn’t mean it’s not there. The people executing the plan know what they’re doing. They’re not just throwing darts at the player roster and cutting guys loose that way – every move is calculated and has been agonized over for countless hours. They know how to build winners.
If you need reminding of that simple fact, I urge you to take a look at your DVD collection: