With the Ravens holding their season-ending press conference in Owings Mills on Thursday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. It was encouraging that Eric DeCosta and Lamar Jackson “spent some time together” Thursday and John Harbaugh discussed the offensive coordinator situation with Jackson, but this presser was intended to be — and needed to be — very positive. If you feel dramatically better, DeCosta and Harbaugh merely did a good job.
2. Asked about Jackson’s contract right off the bat, DeCosta began by saying, “It takes two to tango.” When asked at the end if Jackson would be his quarterback to open 2023, he said, “I don’t see any reason why he won’t be.” Everyone hears what they want to hear.
3. Harbaugh downplayed any durability concerns with Jackson having missed roughly a third of the last two seasons, noting how he was injured on “kind of freaky plays.” Still, lower-body injuries for a quarterback whose mobility sets him apart aren’t going to prompt an increase in guaranteed money being offered.
4. Though DeCosta saying the Ravens “definitely took on some water this year at” wide receiver was the understatement of the day, he and Harbaugh vowed to build a better group for 2023 and beyond. Of course, it would be difficult to be any worse there.
5. Rashod Bateman is “going to be ready really soon to run full speed” and “is going to have a great offseason,” according to Harbaugh. The Ravens putting all their eggs in the Bateman basket was a dubious plan at wide receiver, but he’s still shown major upside when healthy.
6. DeCosta has “crazy respect” for Marcus Peters and “will probably speak” with him at some point, but that isn’t a strong indication that the 30-year-old will return. Brandon Stephens improved as the season went on, but a starting-caliber outside cornerback has to be high on the offseason priority list.
7. There was social media pushback on Harbaugh saying the Ravens “did really well this year with injuries” in the wake of Jackson missing the final six games, but most of their concerns were carryovers from 2021. Expecting to be injury-free is as unlikely as what Baltimore endured last season.
8. While DeCosta wasn’t ready to commit to picking up Patrick Queen’s fifth-year option, that seems likely after his strong season. However, would Baltimore consider maximizing his value in a trade — perhaps as part of a package for a veteran wide receiver — with a long-term deal unlikely after Roquan Smith’s extension?
9. Asked about Ben Powers, DeCosta said, “My feeling is Ben is probably going to be sought after in free agency based on the way he played this year.” That’s about as close to an admission as you’re going to get that Powers is unlikely to be back next year.
10. Harbaugh wants to keep many of Greg Roman’s run-game schemes in place, which makes sense with remaining assistants presumably learning plenty from him. But I also remember how rough a similar attempt was the year after Gary Kubiak departed. It’s not quite that simple, but Jackson’s presence always helps.
11. I wrote about Jackson’s status complicating the offensive coordinator search, but that doesn’t mean Baltimore won’t be able to hire a good candidate. Even if you can’t guarantee Jackson being here long term, you sell the idea that any trade would fetch draft picks to handpick a talented young quarterback.
12. DeCosta said he hasn’t made a decision to use the exclusive or non-exclusive tag. If Jackson wants a fully guaranteed deal and Baltimore won’t do it, is the risky non-exclusive tag the way to force movement — one way or the other — if you truly want to get an extension done?