On a sunny Friday afternoon on the Ravens’ practice field in Owings Mills, Maryland, Baltimore Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta joined the media for availability following the league-wide roster moves as all teams set their initial 53-man rosters. DeCosta shared nearly 17-minutes of his time with media to answer a wide array of topics. Here are the highlights.
The Passing of Gil Brandt
DeCosta shared he was a child of the 70s and became a Dallas Cowboys fan in 1978, where Gil Brandt was the teams’ Chief Talent Scout. Brandt helped to revolutionize talent and scouting evaluation systems that have been used by teams across the NFL, including, according to DeCosta, the Ravens.
“Really kind of set the standard for scouting as we know it,” DeCosta said. “Our actual grading scale that we use, our system, goes back to that original Gil Brandt system that they used, which I’m proud of. We’ve tweaked it but it’s still the same system. Just a very innovative, deep-thinking person. Really just set the stage for scouting as we know it. A big loss in the NFL community and I’m glad he got into the Hall of Fame a few years ago. Well deserved, in my opinion.”
J.K. Dobbins and the Ravens
Unofficially, running back J.K. Dobbins wasn’t holding in. It’s heavily speculated he did, including teammate Melvin Gordon III saying it was a hold-in, but it was never officially stated. But that is in the rearview mirror with Dobbins off the Player Unable to Perform list and healthy for a Week 1 matchup against the Houston Texans. DeCosta shared he doesn’t want to get into specifics about contract talks with Dobbins publicly, but the organization wants to continue re-signing their own players.
“We try to keep that stuff in-house,” DeCosta said. “We’re excited to see what he’s going to do this year. He’s a talented player. I know he wants to be here and we want him here. I have a lot of respect for him as a person and also as a competitor. The way he takes care of his business and the way he rehabbed his injury and the way he plays on Sundays. I think we’ve shown that over the last five years we’ve tried to bring as many of our own players as possible and that will continue to be what we do.”
DeCosta Calls Out Bad Reporting on Ravens Interest in QB Trey Lance
Multiple reports last week alleged the Ravens were showing interest in then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance. DeCosta was asked to comment on the report and was clear in his response stating they were not interested.
“I would say that’s just bad reporting,” DeCosta said. “If somebody calls you and asks about if you’re interested in a player and you say ‘no’ does that mean you’re interested in that player? . . . We’ve got good quarterbacks. We love our quarterbacks. We weren’t looking to add any quarterbacks at all this training camp. That’s what I would say on that.”
Challenges at Cornerback Early in the Season
At times throughout training camp the Ravens were hampered with short-term injuries at cornerback. As they enter Week 1 they appear mostly healthy, though star cornerback Marlon Humphrey isn’t expected to be on the field early in the season and they’ll be without depth cornerback Damarion “Pepe” Williams, which may pose an early-season challenge. DeCosta shared how they’re navigating the situation.
“We’ll we’re certainly throwing out a big net,” DeCosta said. “We got a lot of guys right now at that position. I think the health has been somewhat problematic at various times throughout camp at that position as we’ve seen it in the past. That being said we do think we have a lot of talented guys back there. We’re anxious to see when we finally get everybody out there on the field together what it looks like. But I think that some of the younger guys have emerged. A couple other guys that have been on the team the last couple years have taken a step in the right direction. ... It’s always going to be one position that every team has that is challenging at times throughout the course of any season.”
Kyu Kelly Not Being on the 53-man Roster, Getting Claimed Off Waivers
In DeCosta’s shortest answer of the availability, the general manager made it clear what led to fifth-round rookie cornerback Kyu Kelly not making the roster and his reaction to losing Kelly by being claimed off waivers.
“He didn’t make the team because he didn’t make the team,” DeCosta said. “Disappointed that he got claimed. Definitely.”
Possible Moves to Free Up Salary Cap Space
Signing a rookie quarterback to the big extension changes the way teams must approach their salary cap. A star quarterback on a rookie deal allows for big spending elsewhere but that luxury is gone for the Ravens. DeCosta admitted things will need to be modified but the team has numerous ways of making adjustments to make moves for the future.
“Yeah, you always want to have more money. We have different ways of doing that,” DeCosta said. “I think that we’ve shown we’ll spend up to the cap every single year and we’ll do that. I think that the landscape of this team has changed a little bit because we struck a contract with Lamar. So the way that we operate will be a little different in the future. I think we’ll continue to try and do early signings as much as possible.”
Ravens Getting Calls About Their Wide Receiver Depth
In what would appear to be a first, the Baltimore Ravens were the ones answering the call, not making it, regarding inquiries over a teams’ wide receiver depth.
“I think it’s encouraging to have so much depth,” DeCosta said. “This was the first year—I will say this—this is the first year other teams called us looking for receivers. Actually, that was a joke at first but it’s kind of cool.”
Teams Are More Hesitant to Trade With DeCosta
When you land a couple great players at low cost, teams across the league tend to take notice. After hitting on trades for defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback Marcus Peters and linebacker Roquan Smith, with the Ravens largely coming out on top in said trades, DeCosta said he feels a bit of apprehension from other teams in working out a trade with him.
“People call me because we do a lot of trades. We love trades. We get a lot of calls. Now, it used to be easier for me to do trades than it is now. I think people, they’re always a little bit more suspicious now that I’ve been in the league as a general manager [for] five years.”