As bombshells go, this one’s a 57-megaton Tsar Bomba of a news flash.
Steve Bisciotti said Ozzie Newsome will step down as GM after the 2018 season and Eric DeCosta will take over control of the 53-man roster.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) February 2, 2018
Ozzie Newsome — a fixture in the Baltimore Ravens front office for so long that when he got his first job in the executive suite in 1991 after his playing career ended, they were still the original Cleveland Browns — will step down after the 2018 season, clearing the way for Assistant GM Eric DeCosta.
Team owner Steve Bisciotti announced the move during his State of the Ravens press conference Friday.
“We had talked after the ’13 season and it was about Eric, and Ozzie agreed to redo his contract for a five-year extension in which he case he would turn over the 53[-man roster] to Eric,” Bisciotti said. “That’s a year away.”
Newsome, 61, has been the general manager of the franchise since 2002, presiding over the building of the team’s second championship roster, which took home the hardware in Super Bowl XLVII back in 2013.
He will stay on as a consultant after next season, Bisciotti said.
“[Newsome] assured me he’s not going anywhere and he will work with me and work with Eric for a smooth transition,” Bisciotti said. “He will be the highest-paid scout in America when Eric takes over next year.”
Newsome confirmed that he’ll be sticking around, telling The Baltimore Sun, “I don’t know what my title will be, but I still will be a very big part of the organization. I’ll be in the building and working with the team every day as usual. This is all part of a five-year plan that I worked out with the owner near the end of my contract. Eric will have the title of general manager, which is part of the transition, but there will be very little change. Right now, my focus is on getting ready for the draft, the combine and free agency.”
The Ravens will have franchise continuity when DeCosta takes over; DeCosta has been assistant GM since 2012 and was always presumed to be in a position where he was being groomed for the role as Newsome’s successor.
DeCosta, who has been a key figure in the Ravens’ war room on draft day, was instrumental in bringing most of Baltimore’s Super Bowl-caliber talent onto the squad; he previously served as director of college scouting, directly responsible for supplying information and forecasts that have far more often than not hit the mark in terms of value-for-draft-position.
While the Ravens will likely interview some minority candidates to satisfy the “Rooney Rule,” it will be entirely for show; everyone knows DeCosta is the guy they’re going to hire.
Indeed, this is the ultimate reward for DeCosta’s patience. He has never even so much as interviewed for the chance to be a GM elsewhere in the league; the Packers put out feelers to see if he was interested this season, but DeCosta stuck with Newsome and with the Ravens franchise, the promise of future glory plenty enough reward in the present.
Which, in turn, speaks to why the Ravens franchise has two Super Bowl titles to begin with.
After all, continuity is everything in football. Think of every great franchise in the league, from the Patriots to the Ravens to the Steelers to the Eddie DeBartolo-era 49ers in the 1980s and ’90s. They put together a combination of front office stability, coaching continuity (in order, Bill Belichick, Brian Billick/John Harbaugh, Bill Cowher/Mike Tomlin, and Bill Walsh/George Seifert), and a little luck from having a great player or two (Tom Brady, Ray Lewis, Ben Roethlisberger and the Joe Montana/Steve Young dynasty, respectively) and won championships.
Contrast the franchise that filled the hole the Ravens left behind in Cleveland, or the revolving-door messes in Oakland and Chicago. Combine a coaching carousel, weak drafting and player evaluation, and poor executive leadership and boom, instant perpetual top 10 draft picks that they still manage to whiff on.
Ravens fans should be celebrating the incredible front office career of Newsome, who even if he never played a down of actual football on the field would still be a Hall of Famer as an executive. (He entered Canton in 1999 after a 13-year career with the Browns; when he retired, he was the leading tight end receiver in NFL history with 662 receptions for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns.)
Ravens fans also should be celebrating a forward-thinking front office that knew for years how it planned to move on and did everything right to keep a loyal and talented lieutenant at Newsome’s side to both bolster the franchise’s draft quality and serve as the heir apparent.
Steve Bisciotti discusses his reasons for confidence in Eric DeCosta. pic.twitter.com/qUVht2NiUL
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) February 2, 2018
If the Ravens are back in the Super Bowl under DeCosta a few years from now, fans will know why.
Maybe the city they left behind should watch and learn.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.