Twelve Ravens Thoughts on DeCosta, Harbaugh media sessions in Indianapolis

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With general manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh having press conferences at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday morning, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. While acknowledging long-term benefits and flexibility, DeCosta maintained the greater-than-expected increase to the salary cap “doesn’t mean that we’re going to just open up the books and go shopping” for free agents. That’s especially true if he has to use the franchise tag on Justin Madubuike, which costs $22.102 million. 

2. That’s why I have a difficult time believing Baltimore is going to jump to sign a veteran running back early in free agency. It’s worth noting that the three backs tagged in 2023 — Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard — haven’t signed long-term contracts a year later.

3. Though DeCosta and Harbaugh made clear there’s legitimate interest in re-signing Gus Edwards, their mentions of J.K. Dobbins sounded more like a courtesy. Dobbins certainly can’t be picky after missing all but 10 games in three years, but I’d assume he’s eyeing a fresh start somewhere else.

4. To no surprise in a setting including reporters from all over the NFL, the first three questions Harbaugh heard were about brother Jim landing with the Chargers. Of course, the next “Harbaugh Bowl” awaits in 2024 after John prevailed in the first two more than a decade ago.

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5. The next several questions pertained to the coaching changes the Ravens have undergone with Harbaugh revealing he recently spoke to Nick Saban about finding young coaches. “There’s a lot of talented people out there that could really make a difference, and you just have to figure out who they are.”

6. Harbaugh said the offensive line rebuild will be “probably the most important thing we do on offense” this offseason, a sentiment DeCosta shared. It won’t be easy with limited cap space and draft picks at the end of each round, but getting more athletic in the trenches is a priority. 

7. Asked about Odafe Oweh, DeCosta is “very, very excited about what he brings to the table this year as one of our primary edge rush guys.” Some injuries overshadowed progress he made, but Baltimore needs a big jump with both Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy being free agents.

8. Harbaugh echoed the big expectations the organization still has for Rashod Bateman, insisting “the ball is going to get to him a lot more.” The talent is there, but he and Lamar Jackson must get on the same page to a much greater degree than we saw this past season. 

9. DeCosta has stayed in touch with Odell Beckham Jr., and Harbaugh has his “fingers crossed” about a return. The 31-year-old Beckham stayed healthy enough to play in 16 games including the playoffs, but he registered a total of eight catches for 94 yards over his last five contests.

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10. Harbaugh said the Ravens have “so, so far to go” in Todd Monken’s offensive system after successfully taking “baby steps” in 2023, which included ranking fourth in points per game and yards per play. Mentioning how quickly Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa gets the ball out was an interesting — and unsolicited — mention.

11. DeCosta sounded resigned to the idea of Geno Stone landing elsewhere, noting how the Ravens have “some good safety depth.” He simply may have been referring to starters Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams, but the cupboard looks pretty bare behind them. Finding the next Stone will be an offseason goal.

12. Speaking of Stone, DeCosta labeled him the best seventh-round pick in Ravens history. Ironically, the biggest threat to that distinction could be Miami defensive lineman Zach Sieler, who was Ozzie Newsome’s final draft choice in 2018. The Ferris State product was one who got away in only his second season. 

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