With the Derrick Henry deal, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta bucks trend of methodical approach to offseason

OWINGS MILLS — There is usually panic among the Ravens’ fan base when the NFL’s free-agent frenzy gets started.

Under general manager Eric DeCosta, the team usually loses several key players who have priced themselves out of the Ravens’ comfort zone with the salary cap.

Then, some of the biggest names in the free-agent market sign with other teams, which causes more anxiety among the fans.

This time, DeCosta wasted little time making a huge splash by landing running back Derrick Henry, who agreed to a multiyear deal on Tuesday. Free agents can officially sign on Wednesday.

The addition of Henry makes the Ravens Super Bowl contenders in 2024.

Now, with the biggest positional need satisfied, DeCosta can take his time to boost the roster with several key signings once the market settles. The team still needs to add offensive linemen, defensive backs and a wide receiver.

DeCosta is usually able to find cost-effective deals that help the team in the short term and over the next several seasons. The Ravens also will rely heavily on the NFL draft to add playmakers. They have eight selections in the draft, which starts April 25th.

“We try to consider all the different consequences of these types of things,” DeCosta said. “Something that I’ve been looking at since really last August … just looking at financial projections what we’re going to look like in ‘24, ‘25, ‘26 [and] ‘27.”

In 2021, the Ravens were slow out of the gate, but they managed to sign Pro Bowl right guard Kevin Zeitler, defensive end Derek Wolfe and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who all became starters.

The following year, DeCosta’s patience paid off and the team signed starting safety Marcus Williams, right tackle Morgan Moses and brought back defensive tackle Michael Pierce, who has played in each of the past two seasons.

Last year, DeCosta made the biggest splash of his career by reaching a record five-year contract extension with quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was then named NFL MVP for the second time and led the Ravens to the AFC North title and a 13-4 record. DeCosta also added wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor, who signed a contract extension last month.

DeCosta showed once again that he is not afraid to pull the trigger on a huge deal with the addition of Henry.

The key for DeCosta is adapting to the changing market. He is not going to sign a player who jeopardizes the long-term health of the franchise.

This offseason, DeCosta has already secured two of the top playmakers in the league in Henry and defensive tackle Justin Madubiuke, who signed a four-year extension.

“Obviously, with a franchise quarterback and what those contracts look like – I’ve said this before – the landscape changes, so every deal you do is critically important in the grand scheme of things,” DeCosta said.

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