OWINGS MILLS, MD — On Friday afternoon, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti spoke to the media for about 45 minutes. Local reporters drilled Bisciotti with a number of questions, focusing on key issues like attendance, on-field play, and retaining John Harbaugh after missing the playoffs in four of five seasons.
When Bisciotti discussed what went into his decision to keep Harbaugh, he mentioned general manager Ozzie Newsome’s name without being prompted. Bisciotti revealed that 2018 would be Newsome’s last season as the Ravens’ general manager, and that assistant general manager Eric DeCosta will succeed Newsome, with Ozzie sticking around in a lesser role to help with the transition period.
“We had talked after the 2013 season and it was about Eric,” Bisciotti said. “Ozzie agreed to re-do his contract for a five-year extension, in which case he would turn the 53 [man roster] over to Eric, and that’s a year away. Ozzie will step down as GM and has assured me that he is not going anywhere, and that he will work with me and work with Eric for a smooth transition. He will be the highest-paid scout in America when Eric takes over next year.”
Both Newsome and DeCosta have been with the Ravens since the team’s inception in 1996. Newsome played 13 seasons in the NFL as a tight end for the Cleveland Browns. He had a Hall-Of-Fame career, finishing with 662 receptions for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 for his successes on the field. Four years after his retirement as a player, the Browns hired Newsome as an assignment scout. He worked his way up to being named the Browns’ director of player personnel, a role he would flourish in. When the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 and became the Ravens, Newsome was named the general manager and has been in that role ever since.
In his 22 years as general manager of the Ravens, Newsome has drafted two Hall of Fame players in Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis (and several potential future Hall of Famers, including Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Marshal Yanda), and won two Superbowl Championships in 2000 and 2012. 18 of Newsome’s draftees have seen selected to the Pro Bowl. Newsome, now the third longest-tenured general manager in the NFL, has long been regarded as one of the best in the business.
Along with Newsome, DeCosta has been around since day one for the Ravens. He joined Baltimore’s staff in 1996 as an area scout. He worked his way up the ranks, serving six years as the director of college scouting, three years as director of player personnel, and finally as the assistant general manager, a role DeCosta has been in since 2012.
Although the Ravens’ brass kept this announcement a secret for four seasons, it should not come as a surprise to anyone. For years, other NFL teams have tried to steal DeCosta away from Baltimore, most recently the Packers. Every time DeCosta was offered or recruited for a job opening around the NFL, he turned it down. Now that the Ravens’ plan initiated in 2013 has been made public, we now know why DeCosta turned down several attractive jobs.
Newsome will go down as one of the best general managers in the history of the NFL. He had a Hall of Fame career on the field, and after he retires he will be considered again for his stellar career in the front office. Now 61-years-old and having battled a couple minor health scares, the time has come for Newsome to hand the keys to the castle to DeCosta. Keeping Newsome around in a smaller role for a few years is a brilliant idea. DeCosta has watched Ozzie for over two decades now, and if he has any questions, Ozzie will be right there for advice. With that said, DeCosta will be the one putting pen to paper and making the final ruling on decisions regarding the roster.
This is a move that Ravens fans have been anticipating for a few years now. After the 2018 season, we will finally get to see what DeCosta is capable of.
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