NEW ORLEANS — Much has been discussed about the pending retirement of Ray Lewis and the uncertain future of veterans such as Ed Reed and Matt Birk, but Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome eliminated himself from that discussion on Tuesday.
Some have speculated that the 56-year-old executive might ponder retirement if the Ravens win their second Super Bowl title in franchise history on Sunday, but Newsome eliminated that possibility when speaking with reporters at media day in New Orleans. The Ravens promoted Newsome’s right-hand man Eric DeCosta to the title of assistant general manager last January, but Newsome isn’t ready to step down just yet despite his confidence that the organization will be in fine shape after he retires.
Owner Steve Bisciotti has already publicly stated that DeCosta is the heir apparent to Newsome in Baltimore.
“I know he’s going to be [the successor],” Newsome said. “Steve has said that. I know the Ravens will be in good hands when that time comes. That’s a long time away though.”
DeCosta has often been linked to other organizations seeking a general manager, but the 41-year-old is being paid as well as many general managers in the league and has strong ties to the area through his wife’s family. He has been with the organization since starting as a player personnel assistant in 1996.
Newsome explained why DeCosta has been coveted by so many teams in recent years.
“Eric can process information very quickly,” Newsome said. “He came up through the program. You have to look at Phil [Savage], you look at George [Kokinis], you look at [James "Shack" Harris] — all of those guys were very good. With Eric and his ability to process information so quick, I don’t think he ever allows himself to put himself above the Ravens. Everything he wants to do, he wants to do for the Ravens.”
Newsome chuckled as he addressed his future and admitted last week how much fun he is having with the role after years of working in isolation from players as he studied film and worked on reports for potential college draft prospects.
The architect of the AFC champions has cultivated relationships with role players such as cornerback Chykie Brown and defensive lineman Bryan Hall while growing closer with the stars of the franchise.
“You get a chance to be around these guys,” Newsome said last week. “I’ve seen [Terrell] Suggs change, and I’ve seen Ray [Lewis] change, and I’ve seen Ed [Reed change]. To watch these guys grow and mature. Evaluating players is one thing, doing contracts is another, going down to the principal’s office and spending time with Steve [Bisciotti], that’s another thing. To be there with those guys and to watch those guys grow up, you can’t separate that. You can’t find anything better than that, so I enjoy it.”
FLACCO UPDATE: Newsome once again addressed quarterback Joe Flacco’s expiring contract, reiterating his intention for the fifth-year product to remain in Baltimore for years to come.
The Ravens will attempt to sign him to a long-term contract to avoid the need to use the franchise tag that is estimated to be $14.6 million for a quarterback in the 2013 season.
“People fail to realize that he was a dropped pass away from getting to the Super Bowl last year,” Newsome said. “So, what he did was just back up to what he did a year ago. He’s doing a great job. He has great chemistry with Jim Caldwell. Hopefully, as long as I’m the general manager in Baltimore, he’s the quarterback in Baltimore.”