In his first year as general manager of the Baltimore Ravens, the organization lost one of its best players in recent years, Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, in free agency under Eric DeCosta’s watch. But how much of that is on him, and how much on the past?
That’s more or less the philosophy put forth by John Eisenberg of the team’s website, and really, it’s a fair argument. Once a player is eligible to hit unrestricted free agency, it’s a bidding war. Not everybody is going to be an Anthony Barr and change their mind, re-signing with their original team…and if he hadn’t, perhaps the New York Jets don’t make Mosley the highest-best inside linebacker ever.
But the point is, in spite of the departure of Mosley…and Terrell Suggs, and Za’Darius Smith, all homegrown talents through the draft…DeCosta has still been exercising his goal of retaining their young talent, having given extensions to Tavon Young and Justin Tucker, for example, and with more likely to follow.
And with a wealth of salary cap space still available to them through the remainder of the offseason, more extensions are likely to follow over the course of the next couple of months. The Pittsburgh Steelers prefer to wait until training camp to worry about that, but not every organization follows that pattern.
Other players that Eisenberg named as possible candidates for an extension are defensive tackle Michael Pierce, inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor, outside linebacker Matthew Judon, and perhaps left tackle Ronnie Stanley, even if he is still under contract for a couple more years.
Another name worth including in that mix is Alex Lewis, a fellow rookie starter along the offensive line with Stanley, who now is also heading into his final season on his rookie contract. It’s actually a little unclear why Eisenberg wouldn’t have mentioned him, actually.
That is a solid group of young talent there, some of whom have become even more important given the losses that they have had in free agency. Onwuasor is virtually essential right now without Mosley, while the exits of Judon and Suggs making Judon easily their top pass rusher. Pierce, even with Brandon Williams under contract, is important with the loss of Brent Urban.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have already gotten some of their biggest contract extensions out of the way early in the offseason with center Maurkice Pouncey and then quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but cornerback Joe Haden, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, and perhaps safety Sean Davis could be in that mix later on. Even a B.J. Finney could get a new deal, set to play on a restricted free agent tender.