Ravens GM Eric DeCosta maintains a delicate balance with roster

OWINGS MILLS — General manager Eric DeCosta has done an effective job balancing the Ravens’ short-term and long-term goals.

Since he took over as the team’s full-time GM in 2019, the Ravens have made the playoffs four times.

DeCosta might be facing his toughest offseason, though, with more than 20 unrestricted free agents and numerous holes to fill on the offensive line, outside linebacker, and in the secondary.

DeCosta wants to build a team capable of making a run to the Super Bowl after the team fell just short last year. Whether that’s too ambitious, it’s the expectation he’s created for the franchise.

“We try to build this thing out so that we don’t have windows opening and closing, and that’s kind of been the Ravens’ mindset – that we want to be a competitive, good team every single year,” DeCosta said. “That’s what we aspire to, and I think we have a lot of the types of people in that locker room still, and we’ll [continue] to have those types of guys to put us in a position to win every single year.”

The Ravens had one of their finest seasons in 2023, finishing with the NFL’s best record at 13-4 and advancing to the AFC Championship Game, where their offense stalled in a 17-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Quarterback Lamar Jackson was named NFL MVP and the defense was among the best in the league, holding the high-poweredChiefs scoreless in the second half of the AFC title game.

However, DeCosta has a challenging road ahead.

After placing the franchise tag on defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, which will cost them $22.1 million, the Ravens are roughly $9 million over the salary cap and have until March 13th to be compliant when free agency officially opens.

DeCosta can get the team back under the salary cap by restructuring Jackson’s $250 million contract and releasing outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, which would save about $5.5 million. The team also could look at restructuring other deals or even releasing tackle Ronnie Stanley after June 1st, which would save them $15 million on this year’s cap.

Despite the challenges, DeCosta is confident he has enough talent on the roster and the flexibility to add talent through free agency and the NFL draft to remain competitive. He wants to build on the momentum the Ravens generated last season.

“We’ve got a great locker room [and] a great coaching staff. We’ve built the team the right way,” DeCosta said. “[I have] tremendous, tremendous pride for this team and just … As hard as it is, when I really step back and look at [the 2023] season, I would say it was a resounding success in many, many different ways. The locker room was crazy good [with] the personalities, the love that I think was felt every single day, the attitude that these guys brought. So, that gives me great hope that our future is very bright.”

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