Eric DeCosta channeled his inner Warren Buffett as the NFL offseason officially got underway.
The Ravens have various needs on both sides of the ball, namely at outside linebacker/edge rusher, wide receiver, and on the offensive line.
However, expect general manager Eric DeCosta to remain prudent in the market. One bad deal can set a franchise back several seasons.
And championships are never won in March.
“I subscribe to the Warren Buffett school of thought as to value in investing, which is to say that it’s far better to acquire a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price,” DeCosta said in a message to fans on social media. “Think about that over the next month or two as we segway into free agency and the draft.”
The Ravens already made several solid moves.
The team boosted the interior offensive line by signing guard Kevin Zeitler, to a three-year, $22 million deal. Zeitler was released by the Giants, which means he does not count in compensatory pick scenarios.
DeCosta loves to add draft picks. It’s a fair bet on we are bettors, that he’ll add even more come draft day.
The Ravens also signed special team ace/linebacker Chris Board to a one-year, deal worth up to $2.7 million. Board, who is one of the team’s unsung heroes, was a restricted free agent and the Ravens were able to save money by signing him to a new deal as opposed to a $2.1 million tender.
The team also signed defensive end/defensive tackle Derek Wolfe to a three-year, $12 million deal. Wolfe played a key role last season and was a perfect fit in Don Martindale’s scheme.
We’re back pic.twitter.com/WqA153oFWT
— Derek Wolfe (@Derek_Wolfe95) March 16, 2021
DeCosta also rewarded Tyus Bowser for his breakout season with a four-year deal, $22 million deal with $12 million guaranteed.
The Ravens did let three outside linebackers — Yannick Ngakoue, Matt Judon and Jihad Ward — sign with other teams. Ngakoue inked a two-year, $26 million deal with the Raiders and Judon signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the Patriots. Terms of Ward’s deal have not been disclosed.
With the lower salary cap this season, neither player came close to the deal they initially envisioned. It also appears the Ravens were fully on board with letting both of those players leave because they were not aggressive in trying to negotiate new deals.
Judon was a solid, home-grown player but DeCosta apparently is confident the team can find better value elsewhere. Ngakoue was simply underwhelming after being acquired from the Vikings.
The Ravens already reached a deal with another fellow linebacker Pernell McPhee. The team could also bring back Tyus Bowser, who was lauded for his performance last season.
The hope is Jayon Ferguson, who was selected by the Ravens in the third round (85th overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft, can show more improvement next season and make a bigger impact.
Still, these players likely won’t solve the Ravens challenges with pressuring opposing quarterbacks.
The free-agent market for pass rushers has already grown thin. Some of the top players agreed to deals, including Shaquil Barrett (Buccaneers), Carl Lawson (Jets), Romeo Okwara (Lions) and Bud Dupree (Titans). Baltimore could pursue Melvin Ingram or Haason Reddick, but it’s turning into a seller’s market.
If DeCosta opts to bypass a pass rusher in free agency, he could fill the void in this year’s draft. There are several talented players available, such as Jayson Oweh (Penn State), Joseph Ossai (Texas), Joe Tryon (Washington), Zaven Collins (Tulsa) and Carlos Basham Jr. (Wake Forest).
The Ravens are potentially in the market for a wide receiver, but the team likes the potential of the young playmakers on the roster. It’s not an overwhelming free-agent market for wideouts, and the team could also look to add depth in the draft.
In short, don’t expect a blockbuster trade or an expensive free agent.
DeCosta has said that he walks a delicate balance between trying to compete for a Super Bowl in the short-term while laying the foundation for long-term success.
That means most offseasons in Baltimore are not that exciting.
But expectations are high in September when the stakes begin to get much higher.