NFL

The Ravens’ Eric DeCosta Made All the Right Moves to Become NFL Executive of the Year

Ozzie Newsome was the Ravens’ general manager for more than two decades, beginning with the team’s first NFL season in 1996. So when he left the Ravens after the 2018 season, they had a big hole to fill in the front office. Baltimore made the right decision. Newsome’s replacement, Eric DeCosta, earned high honors in his first season with the team in 2019. He won the league’s Executive of the Year award. Here is DeCosta’s story.

Who is Eric DeCosta?

General manager Eric DeCosta of the Baltimore Ravens
General manager Eric DeCosta of the Baltimore Ravens | Rob Carr/Getty Images

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DeCosta joined the Ravens in 1996. His job included helping everyone from equipment managers to public relations staff and the trainers. DeCosta even got the oil changed for then-coach Ted Marchibroda’s car. From there, as ESPN reports, he ascended through the Ravens’ hierarchy.

DeCosta became the franchise’s Midwest scout from 1998 to 2002. He transitioned to the director of college scouting from 2003-11 and then became the team’s assistant general manager in 2012.

The Massachusetts native was patient and loyal to the franchise. He stayed in Baltimore despite receiving several offers from other teams over the years. The team also believed in DeCosta. At the January 2019 press conference to introduce him as the new GM, he promised he “will justify the [Ravens owner] Bisciottis’ faith” in him.

DeCosta makes the right moves

DeCosta inherited a roster that included young quarterback Lamar Jackson, but DeCosta had to rebuild an aging defense and build an offense around Jackson’s skillset to help the rising star succeed. Some of DeCosta’s moves last year that paid off for the Ravens include:

  • Re-signing TE Nick Boyle, one of the league’s best blocking tight ends and a good pass catcher, who has been identified as a key piece of offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s “revolutionary” offense.
  • Trading veteran QB Joe Flacco after Jackson’s breakout second half of the 2018 season, with the trade giving the Ravens a fourth-round pick, which turned into RB Justice Hill.
  • Signing RB Mark Ingram II, who ran for more than 1,000 yards and scored a total of 15 touchdowns in his first season with the team.
  • Extending K Justin Tucker, who is among the best in the game at his position; he was named to his third Pro Bowl last season.
  • Trading for CB Marcus Peters, which filled a need at cornerback for Baltimore; he made the Pro Bowl in 2019 and only cost the team a backup linebacker and a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft.

Those moves, among others, helped DeCosta win the Sporting News’ NFL Executive of the Year award, which is voted on by league executives.

The future for Eric DeCosta and the Ravens

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The future looks bright for the Ravens under the leadership of DeCosta. At 49 years old, he should have a long stay in Baltimore’s GM office just like Newsome. He turned down interviews from other teams to wait for the Ravens’ general manager position to open up. So you shouldn’t expect him to bolt from Baltimore anytime.

DeCosta’s franchise quarterback and reigning NFL MVP, Lamar Jackson, entered his third NFL season with a bright future. He will give the team stability at the most important position.┬áIngram will be a good veteran running back to lead the rushing game for the next year or two (he can opt-out after the 2020 season). Hill will gain more experience before likely taking over as the starting running back in the future.

With Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in the twilight of his career, the Ravens may be the team to beat in the AFC North for the foreseeable future.