While former Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome was rightfully highly respected as a team builder and draft expert, he like everybody else has had his blind spots. He was as bad at drafting wide receivers as the Pittsburgh Steelers have been drafting cornerbacks. And one thing he did a lot over his tenure was to let talented young players go in free agency.
Part of that was because of his fondness for collecting draft picks, and nobody played the compensatory pick formula more often, or better, than he did, which included making great use of the signings of street free agents and those who remain available after the deadline.
But it can certainly be argued that he let too much talent go, and while it’s true that a lot of teams paid crazy amounts of money for former Ravens players, part of the issue is that he and the team allowed them to hit free agency in the first place rather than signing them to extensions before their contracts were up.
As Newsome’s successor, Eric DeCosta, steps up into the role of general manager this season, he was pretty clear in speaking yesterday about his vision for the Ravens under his watch, which will be built around retaining their good, young football players.
Maybe they don’t trade a Timmy Jernigan or they ink a Kelechi Osemele to an extension before he becomes a free agent. Baltimore has some young talent hitting free agency this year and now they have to decide how to handle it.
None is more significant than inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, the five-year veteran who has made the Pro Bowl four times already. It’s still unclear why they failed to reach an extension with him a year ago as he was set to play on his fifth-year option, but nevertheless, here we are.
With that in mind, the Ravens have to look at Za’Darius Smith and Brent Urban this offseason, two starters who had their best seasons but are slated to hit the open market. They must look at the pipeline that they have behind them and what the market will be.
Meanwhile, players due for consideration of an extension include cornerback Tavon Young, guard Alex Lewis, and Matthew Judon. Michael Pierce is a restricted free agent, but they ought to lock him up with a long-term deal. Patrick Onwuasor is in the same boat as Pierce.