ORLANDO, Fla. — In early February, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti spent a weekend at his house in Jupiter, Fla., meeting with Ravens brass and mapping out the team’s plan for the offseason.
On Monday, Bisciotti sat down with RSR at the annual NFL owners meetings to discuss Baltimore’s offseason to this point as well as several other issues, including the future of running back Ray Rice.
But while Bisciotti expressed frustration and disappointment that three Ravens players have been arrested since mid-February, he is happy with what general manager Ozzie Newsome and Baltimore’s front office have done to improve the team’s roster during that same time period.
Since Feb. 28, the Ravens have re-signed tight end Dennis Pitta, left tackle Eugene Monroe, inside linebacker Daryl Smith, wide receiver Jacoby Jones and safety Jeromy Miles. They also signed former Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith and completed a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for center Jeremy Zuttah.
“I think we’ve got a really balanced roster now,” Bisciotti said.
Bisciotti said two of the team’s remaining priorities will be finding a third cornerback after losing Corey Graham in free agency and finding a free safety, although he said Miles and recently signed Darian Stewart will both factor into the competition at free safety.
Bisciotti also said Baltimore plans on adding another running back. But one thing is for sure in the backfield: Rice will be on the team regardless of how the legal process unfolds stemming from his arrest in February.
“Ray has built up too much good will in our locker room, on the football field, in the building and in the community, so we’re going to let him deal with this,” Bisciotti said. “This is devastating to Ray and his fiancée. It’s embarrassing. It’s humiliating.
“But what I’ve seen from Ray the last six years, he’s going to become a better man because of it. … We’ll monitor it and we’ll support Ray, and we’ll take advantage of Ray and his dedication to winning back people that may be put off by what happened.”
Bisciotti also addressed reports that he played a big role in the Ravens hiring Gary Kubiak to be their offensive coordinator.
When Kubiak was hired in January, the Baltimore Sun reported that Bisciotti was behind the hiring and that coach John Harbaugh was a “non-factor” in the move.
“I had no role,” Bisciotti said. “I was in Florida and John would give me daily updates on his interviews, and my role was to give him interview advice, not picking people.”
In terms of the future, Bisciotti said he would like to get a contract extension worked out with wide receiver Torrey Smith prior to the NFL draft in May.
“Nothing would make me happier,” Bisciotti said.
Smith is entering the final year of the rookie contract he signed in 2011.
Bisciotti said he bumped into Smith’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, on his way to a meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes Monday.
Rosenhaus told Bisciotti that he is planning on speaking about Smith to Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and senior vice president of football administration Pat Moriarity in Orlando. When Rosenhaus told him that, Bisciotti said to him, “We’ve got to get that done.”
Rosenhaus’ response: “I’ll tell them you said that.”
“We’ve had a lot of success with Drew, and I’m really encouraged,” Bisciotti said. “Torrey is a Raven. We’re going to work that out, and I would, really, really like to see that.
“He’s scheduled to make very little money relative to his accomplishments in his fourth year of a second-round rookie deal, so we can give him a really good deal and not impact our salary cap negatively.”
Bisciotti also expressed a willingness to give inside linebacker Rolando McClain a chance if McClain does end up returning to football this season.
McClain, a top-10 pick in 2010, retired in May, a month after signing a one-year deal with the Ravens.
He had recently been arrested for the third time during a 17-month period and said in a statement at the time that he needed to get his personal life in order.
Since then, McClain returned to school at the University of Alabama, where he was an All-American linebacker in 2009. He has also gotten his life more in order, according to a source close to McClain.
McClain told reporters at Alabama’s Pro Day earlier this month that his agent has been in contact with Newsome. Bisciotti also said Monday that Newsome has been in regular contact with Alabama coach Nick Saban, who has had “glowing reports” regarding McClain.
“It’s got to be hard getting a multi-million dollar contract and finding yourself back at Alabama taking classes with 19-year-olds. So the fact he’s done that says a lot to me,” Bisciotti said. “And if Ozzie wants to give him a shot, I’m all for it because I think that how he’s handled the last year has been very impressive, very admirable.”