DeCosta Goes On Offense

Street Talk DeCosta Goes On Offense

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Eric DeCosta has produced his own version of an all-out blitz.

While other NFL general managers were gathering data in the days leading up to free agency, DeCosta was already in attack mode.

Over the past weekend, DeCosta executed one of the most aggressive strategies in the history of the Ravens.

In a span of five days, the Ravens:

— Used their franchise tag on linebacker and sacks leader Matt Judon.

— Acquired defensive end Calais Campbell from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fifth-round pick,

— Extended contract tenders to center Matt Skura and running back Gus Edwards as restricted free agents.

— Traded tight end Hayden Hurst and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to the Atlanta Falcons for second- and fifth-round selections in this year’s NFL Draft

— Signed former Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers to a three-year, $30-million free-agent deal.

— Re-signed defensive linemen Justin Ellis and Jihad Ward.

All of this occurred before the new league year even officially opened.

Now, expect the frenzy of activity to slow down.

The Ravens have used almost all of their salary-cap funds to make the aforementioned deals. The team created more space by releasing offensive lineman James Hurst and will likely do the same with cornerback Brandon Carr.

While the team’s aggressive foray into free agency might be settled down, DeCosta and his staff can start shifting their attention to the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Ravens have an opportunity to add even depth across their roster with nine selections. DeCosta has the following picks at his disposal: one in the first round, two in the second, two in the third, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and one in the seventh.

The Ravens could potentially land their coveted linebacker with the 28th overall selection. Two players being linked to them are Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray and LSU’s Patrick Queen. Both of those players have the ability to make an immediate impact.

This is a deep draft for wide receivers and DeCosta will be able to find exceptional value in the later rounds. While the Ravens are hopeful Ben Powers can take the next step in his development to fill the void of the retired Marshal Yanda, the team will also need to add depth in the draft.

DeCosta will undoubtedly look at finding an edge rusher and depth in the secondary with a cornerback.

Ultimately, DeCosta has been able to strike a balance with the roster in just a few days.

The front end of the defense has the potential to be just as dominant as the back end. That will also take some pressure off the offense, which will look to build and adjust after last season’s record-setting performance.

You know it’s a dynamic offseason when quarterback Lamar Jackson’s name has been rarely mentioned since unanimously winning the league’s Most Valuable Player Award. While it’s been mostly quiet, expect Jackson to come back with a vengeance next season to quiet a new wave of naysayers that claim he can’t win a playoff game.

In short, that’s been the focus.

DeCosta has spent his time trying to solve some of the roster’s shortcomings. The goal is to build a team that can overcome the disappointment of one-and-done performances the past two seasons in the playoffs.

The Ravens front office, coaches and players have lofty aspirations to make a Super Bowl run in 2020. The oddsmakers are certainly confident in their ability to achieve that goal, putting them right behind Kansas City as preseason favorites.

DeCosta, however, is not looking at a short window. He wants to build the league’s next dynasty.

So far, it appears that he is clearly on the correct path.

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich
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