One by one, Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Head Coach John Harbaugh entered the Ravens auditorium with grins on their faces as the introductory press conference was held for the signing of Beckham It was clear the team was in high spirits.
“We’re just working hard and trying to make our team as it could be and today is a really good day,” Harbaugh said, with a grin. “Today is a great day for the Ravens.”
Steve Bisciotti Sealed the Deal
A desire to feel and be wanted was a significant part of Beckham’s free agency tour.
“I’m at a place in my life where it means a lot more to be wanted than someone would love to have you, cause a lot of places would love to have you but where you’re really wanted, you can pour your heart into that even more,” Beckham said.
And according to Beckham’s, a part of who expressed that affection and respect was none other than team owner Steve Bisciotti, who contacted Beckham directly.
“[Steve Bisciotti] reaching out is what really set it over the edge,” Beckham said. “The conversation we had, we just chopped it up, just two men talking. It wasn’t so much the business side or everything that was going on. It was just, he made me feel wanted. He made me feel like somebody wants me to be here, wants me to be great, wants me to be a part of this team and this organization and at this point in my life that’s everything I need.”
Confidence in Beckham
The signing of Beckham was a hefty one. The most any team had paid for in free agency for a wide receiver, prior to the Ravens, was $11 million to Jakobi Myers and Allen Lazard. The Ravens shattered that, handing Beckham a one-year deal worth “up to $18 million” with the deal starting at $15 million, all guaranteed. DeCosta was asked about the perception of this being a gamble, and why he’s confident it will pay off.
“Where we are as a team right now, this is the guy we felt take us to the next level,” DeCosta said. “Saw him, the last game that he played in, honestly, he was probably the best player on the field. We’ve had lots of players come back from this injury and flourish over time... I got to tell you, after two minutes in Arizona sitting across the table from Odell, I had no doubt in my mind that this was the right guy for the team.”
DeCosta hasn’t been shy about sharing negotiations not being an overnight process. During the end of season press conference he noted some are faster than others, what with tight end Mark Andrews’ deal needing “probably three or four days”, whereas left tackle Ronnie Stanley’s deal took “about a year and a half.” You can lump in Beckham’s signing as a longer process, as DeCosta was in talks with Beckham’s agent, Zeke Sandhu, last season.
“This has been something that’s been really percolating over the last year. We’ve had conversations with Odell’s agent, Zeke, who’s here today,” DeCosta said. “This is something that we’ve been focused on for really going back to last October—we’ve had conversations, possibly, potentially, getting something worked out.”
Harbaugh also shared they were in talks with Beckham last season, likely exploring signing options to help in their playoff push.
“Going back to November last year, December, we had a few conversations throughout,” Harbaugh said. “Those kinds of conversations, especially where Odell was at, and we were fighting, trying to make a season and he was fighting to get his way back. I think he kind of wanted to maybe think about playing at that time.”
No Assurances Made On Lamar Jackson Remaining a Raven
When the Ravens signed Beckham, many shared the belief that Beckham wouldn’t play for a Ravens team that wasn’t helmed by Jackson. Now, after the assumptions were made, Beckham was able to answer about if he signed knowing Jackson would return.
“I’ve talked to Lamar while we were out there and that’s a better discussion for [Harbaugh and DeCosta] but the goal was to come here and have that possibility to play with [Jackson].”
In a later response, Beckham reiterated he did not get a guarantee on Jackson’s return to the Ravens.
“I did not get any assurances for anything,” Beckham said. “...To me, it just was excited about the possibility of [playing with Jackson. My thoughts would be he would be here, I know [Harbaugh and DeCosta] want him to be here and at the end of the day that’s going to be up to them.”
Lamar Jackson’s Name Uttered Once More
Eight days ago, those sitting at the table of the Pre-Draft Press Conference refrained from saying Jackson’s name. There were questions about his trade request and the team opted to keep things centered around the draft. Eight days later, Jackson’s name was mentioned by both Harbaugh and DeCosta, and with positivity.
“We only think of Lamar Jackson as the quarterback of this team,” DeCosta said.
When asked about the offense and the addition of Beckham, Harbaugh noted the Ravens’ are still scheming their playbook with Jackson in mind.
“It’s not going to be anything that’s going to be, ‘Oh, we have Odell, now we’re going to run this play,’” Harbaugh said. “It’s how you fit all the pieces together within the concepts. We have the concepts that are good for Lamar. Are good for our offensive line. Good for our backs. Good for our tight ends, and good for this receiving room that we are building.”
Beckham’s Last Game Noteworthy
The compliment paid to Beckham being the best player on the field in his last game is no ordinary kindness. Where Beckham last played was in Super Bowl LVI, where he was a catalyst in surging the Los Angeles Rams over the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20. Beckham value was apparent when he was on the field, catching two passes for 52 yards and opening the scoring less than 10 minutes into the game. It was more obvious when he left in the second quarter due to a non-contact ACL injury. Afterward, the Rams were struggling to move the ball, and six of their final eight drives ended in interceptions (2) or punts (4). Beckham, with a confidence desired by coaches, spoke on what his last game means to him.
“One quote I’d always lived by was ‘‘you’re only as good as your last game,’” Beckham said. “It could be up for debate but I think I was well on the way to being MVP in that game and it’s just the type of mentality I have.