The 49-minute State of the Ravens press conference has now come to an end, and before I pass along lengthy quotes from today’s session, I wanted to get a handful of quick-hit notes out there.
Owner Steve Bisciotti was the star of the show today, garnering most of the questions from reporters despite the fact he had general manager Ozzie Newsome, president Dick Cass and head coach John Harbaugh flanking him.
Bisciotti said that he’s still “not over” the Ravens’ loss to the Patriots in the AFC championship game, which likely mirrors the thoughts of many fans throughout the area. The Ravens owner also said that he “died with” Billy Cundiff and Lee Evans after their miscues in the loss, and that “it breaks your heart that somebody’s got to be the goat.”
Asked what it will take for the Ravens to take the next step as an organization, Bisciotti responded simply: “Hold onto a ball.”
As the team moves on from its loss two weekends ago, it’ll need to turn its attention to quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice, both of whom are hoping to receive long-term deals this offseason.
Bisciotti said that the Ravens will begin talks with Flacco shortly.
“We’re just gonna sit down and start grinding our contract terms and that’s something that I trust Ozzie and Pat (Moriarty, Vice President of Football Administration) to do well,” Bisciotti said.
Bisciotti also added that “Ray and Joe Flacco will be part of this football team next year, guaranteed,” confirming what we already knew, which is that the Ravens will place the franchise tag on Rice if they cannot reach a deal before the deadline.
The Ravens hope to reach a deal with Rice, who will be an unrestricted free agent, before the franchise tag deadline, but that appears unlikely.
Bisciotti was asked whether safety Ed Reed has given the team definitive word that he’ll be back next season, much like linebacker Ray Lewis did after the Patriots game. Both men had been rumored to be considering retirement.
“Ed doesn’t give definitive answers,” Bisciotti said with a giant laugh. “No, no he hasn’t. We didn’t get that same proclamation that we got from Ray. We’re assuming he’s going to be back. He’s under contract and I think he still has the desire to play.”
As far as having replacements in place for Lewis and Reed, Bisciotti said that often times, the next batch of stars emerge at other positions, indicating that fans shouldn’t expect the Ravens to have Pro Bowlers in place at middle linebacker and free safety right away.
Asked what the Ravens will set as their primary offseason goals, Newsome said he will look to bolster the offensive line, add wide receivers and bring in more pass rushers, which he believes “you can never get enough” of.
The Ravens expect to lose a couple of their younger coaches in the next couple of days, as new Colts head coach and former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano will bring a few guys with him to Indianapolis. Pagano will not be taking any of the Ravens’ more prominent coaches, however.