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New Ravens GM faces tough choices with Flacco, Mosley and more to keep team under cap in 2019

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USA TODAY Sports

New Ravens GM faces tough choices with Flacco, Mosley and more to keep team under cap in 2019

Eric DeCosta stood at the podium at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Md. Wednesday for the first time as the Ravens' general manager. 

The introductory press conference ushered in a new era for the organization, and DeCosta, who started it off by recounting when he realized he was interested in scouting, has heavy decisions staring him directly in the face.

Most notably are the futures of quarterback Joe Flacco, linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley, safety Eric Weddle and guard Marshal Yanda. 

"That's an ongoing process," DeCosta said on the team's plan for Flacco.

"The new league year starts in March. We'll have a lot of different ideas, strategies, things that we'll look at once March rolls around. Right now, we're really focused on the draft and our free agency meetings, which will start to take place over the next couple weeks. We have discussed Joe. We've discussed a lot of players on the team. I think that when the time comes for us to make a decision, one way or the other, we'll have a plan in place."

If and when the Ravens decide to trade Flacco after 11 seasons and one Super Bowl, DeCosta will likely be looking to recoup the 2019 second-round draft pick they gave up in the 2018 draft to move back into the first-round to pick Lamar Jackson. And with the lack of first-round worthy quarterbacks in this year's draft, Flacco could be a hot commodity.

One thing DeCosta made clear during the almost 45 minutes he spent answering the media's questions, was that the team will be focused on putting themselves in a really good salary cap position in 2019 and going forward. 

In addition to clearing $10.5 million in cap space by parting with Flacco, the Ravens could free up $6.5 million by cutting Weddle, $7 million with guard Marshal Yanda, $9.5 million and $5 million with cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr respectively, and $4.66 million and $4 million with receivers Michael Crabrtree and Willie Snead. 

"I think we want to have the best players we can," DeCosta added. "That we can fit in under the parameters of the salary cap. We want to have a great mix of young players and veteran leadership and guys that can help us win games. And there's a lot of different formulas for that. As of right now, we're not tied to cutting anybody and we're not tied to playing with anybody. We want the best team we can field to play in September 2019."

Two of the veteran leaders the Ravens will have to try to fit under the salary cap are Suggs and Mosley, two players DeCosta helped draft.

"Good football players should be paid and C.J.'s a good football player. There's no doubt about it."

After being voted to his fourth Pro Bowl in five seasons, Mosley made it clear he wants to remain in Baltimore and DeCosta noted how different their season would have ended if it weren't for Mosley's playmaking skills in Week 17.

“I certainly hope that C.J. is back. I believe in my heart that he will be.”

Now the Ravens must get to work and figure out how to make players like Mosley fit in financially. When asked about utilizing the franchise tag on the linebacker, DeCosta said "everything is on the table."

Then there is free agency to deal with. 

"Right player, right price," is how DeCosta described their approach going into it. "The other thing is we're going to look at our players on our team. We'll make some tough decisions with certain players. And there's a lot of different ways we could go. We could let some guys go and free up some capital, and we may decided that's not the best thing for us to do for the football team. We may wait to do that with certain players. We may not."

While no insight was given on exact players, it is clear that DeCosta and the Ravens will be thoroughly examining all options in free agency and the draft. 

"Then we may decide to draft first and see what we can do via the draft before we really do anything in free agency, which can be effective as well. I think there's a lot of different strategies that we can use. I think right now what we're trying to do is just asses the quality of the draft and also asses the quality of free agency. To rank the players from best to worst and to find, and sort of ascertain, which players really help us be the best team we can be." 

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Ravens among Super Bowl favorites in 2020, according to one advanced metric

Ravens among Super Bowl favorites in 2020, according to one advanced metric

The Baltimore Ravens were one of the best teams in football in 2019, and one advanced metric has them on the same course for 2020.

On Tuesday, Seth Walder of ESPN released projections for all 32 NFL teams based on ESPN's Football Power Index. The model takes into account the team's results from last season, changes to the roster and coaching staff in the offseason, Las Vegas win totals, quarterbacks and more. For accuracy, the simulation was run 20,000 times.

The model's projection for the Ravens was about as good as it comes. ESPN has the Ravens obtaining the second-highest win total in the NFL at 11.0. That ranks just behind the defending Super Bowl Champion Kanas City Chiefs who were simulated to have 11.2 wins.

More importantly, ESPN's FPI also likes Baltimore's chances to make the playoff and succeed in them. Though the Chiefs hold the highest percentage to make the playoffs (94%) and the largest chance to win the Super Bowl (21%), the Ravens are right behind in each category with a 92% chance to make the playoffs and 17% chance to hold the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.

Part of the reason the model is so high on the Ravens stems from their potent offense. Last year Baltimore and Lamar Jackson scored points at a ferocious pace and that shouldn't change in 2020. Even as defenses begin to adjust to Jackson's running ability, his growth as a passer will make him just as, if not even more, dangerous. Pair that with the return of Mark Andrews, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and Mark Ingram as well as the additions of J.K. Dobbins and speedy receivers in the draft and Baltimore's offense shows no signs of slowing down.

Additionally, FPI takes into account the Ravens defense, and the unit's ability to reload and work toward getting more physical by adding Calais Campbell and Patrick Queen bode well for the upcoming season.

Numbers, expectations and odds don't dictate everything, and the Ravens know that after the divisional round disaster against the Titans last season. However, the metric's projections don't seem too far off from what the Ravens can do in 2020.

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Ravens' Marlon Humphrey gets creative for morning workout, climbs rock hill

Ravens' Marlon Humphrey gets creative for morning workout, climbs rock hill

With the NFL season on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, the beginning of OTAs and other training sessions have been delayed. Therefore, players have had to get creative with their workouts based on their surroundings.

From truck pushing to weight-lifting sessions in mom and dad's driveway, there has been no shortage of unique workouts across the league. However, Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey may have just claimed the title of most creative.

On Monday, the star defender shared a video on Twitter of a workout he and his brothers participated in. The three looked to be focusing on cardio and strength-building, but not in the way it's typically done. Finding a large pile of gravel and rocks, they took turns running up the terrain. It's easy to feel the burn in your thighs and calves just looking at it.

Humphrey and his brothers made the exercise look rather easy, though it is certainly anything but that. Even the smallest piece of gravel on flat ground can sometimes trip someone up, and here, the cornerback is running up a hill composed entirely of it.

After former Ravens safety Eric Weddle responded to the video by letting Humphrey know just how insane the workout is, Humphrey admitted it didn't last long.

If this type of tricky surface isn't slowing Humphrey down, there isn't much that can. When the NFL season does begin, it could be a long year for opposing wide receivers who are tasked with somehow escaping his coverage.

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