Eric DeCosta does not plan to live in the shadow of Ozzie Newsome.
The new Ravens general manager wants to put his own stamp on the team and create his own legacy.
That said, DeCosta is not going to entirely dismiss the strategies and values he learned under Newsome’s tutelage.
“I think we’ve done a lot of really good things in the past, and we would be foolish to just change things overnight,” DeCosta said at his introductory news conference. “I think we always want to be a physical, big, fast, aggressive, disciplined football team. We always want to play with passion. We always want to have the ability to impose our will on our opponents. I think we want to be financially responsible when it comes to the salary cap.”
DeCosta has already put plans in place for free agency and the NFL Draft. He appears to be measured in his decisions and he will forge ahead with as much input as possible from his staff.
One of the earliest challenges will be free agency.
“I think everything is on the table right now. I certainly hope that C.J. is back,” DeCosta said. “I believe in my heart that he will be. We’re having those discussions now. I think we have several different strategies in place. We’re in the business of keeping our good football players.
“Talent wins in the NFL, and he’s a Pro Bowl linebacker, so we’re going to do what we can to make sure that C.J. is back on the team.”
DeCosta has been running the Ravens’ draft meetings since 2004. He also plans to put his own spin on the process, but will remember one of the most important lessons he learned from Newsome: being a good listener.
The Ravens have the 22nd overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Baltimore has only selected at that spot once in its history, selecting wide receiver Mark Clayton from Oklahoma in 2005. Clayton had an uneven career with the Ravens.
“There will be some changes in the way that we do things,” DeCosta said about the draft. “I want to make sure I give our people a chance to really do their jobs and to be as effective as they can be in their roles. We have some amazing scouts, and we have some really good people who can organize and manage and help us make the best decisions. We have some really good coaches that are good evaluators. I think we have a really, really good structure in place.”
DeCosta is also happy to be working with coach John Harbaugh, who recently received a contract extension from the team. During his introductory remarks, DeCosta said that Harbaugh was “the only coach I want to work with.” Their homes are “about 100 yards apart” according to the GM, so they are connected outside the Ravens practice facility.
DeCosta also dismissed reports there was friction between the him and the coach.
“It did bother me. There’s a word I like to use sometimes – I was an English major – and it’s called subterfuge,” DeCosta said about the rumors that he and Harbaugh did not get along. “I would see that, and I would read it, and all I would think to myself is, ‘We have enemies out there who are trying to create divisions and cracks and fissures and things like that.’ I get it. It’s what we do around draft time.
“I stand up here at draft time and tell you guys things, and sometimes I have an agenda. So, I get it. But it did upset me a little bit, I think, because it just wasn’t true, and it was a personal thing. It wasn’t work-related; it wasn’t a game or something that would affect the outcome of a game or strategy. It was personal, and it was simply not true,” he said.
The DeCosta era is up and running.
The future course of the franchise will become more focused in the coming weeks as DeCosta’s shadow becomes bigger around the Ravens’ facility.