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Ravens' Harbaugh not worried about job security after loss to Steelers

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Ravens' Harbaugh not worried about job security after loss to Steelers

As the Baltimore Ravens enter their bye week 4-5, sitting third in the AFC North and having now lost three in a row, their week off will be spent answering several tough questions.

One of the biggest and toughest ones has to do with their head coach of 11 years. 

John Harbaugh has led the Ravens to the playoffs six of his 10 full seasons, and of course in 2012, coached his team to winning Super Bowl XLVII. But the Ravens haven't seen the postseason since 2014, and with a loss against the Cincinnati Bengals come Week 11, the playoffs once again look to be in the rearview mirror.

The bye week could bring the end of an era. Or it could not.

After his teams 23-16 loss Sunday to the Steelers Sunday in what was considered a must-win game, Harbaugh was asked about the possibility of being relieved of his coaching duties sometime in the next week. 

"I've never been someone who's worried about keeping a job," Harbaugh said. "It's always been, for me, [about] doing the job. I've got a bunch of great coaches and a bunch of great players that bust their tails every day to do the best job they can. I feel really good about the way this team has been coached for the last 11 years, and for the last number of weeks we've been in the season. So, there are no regrets. Never been any regrets here with me."

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, in February at his annual State of the Ravens press conference, was asked why there were no coaching changes made after the Ravens' heartbreaking, last second Week 17 loss to the Bengals that knocked them out of the playoffs. 

"I’m not going to give a ‘playoff or bust’ edict to you all, or to my coach," Bisciotti said at the time. "He’s under as much pressure, probably, than he’s ever been in his life, and I expect him to keep his chin up and take his positivity and his talents and make the most of this season. I may as well replace him now if I’m going to tell him, ‘Make the playoffs or you’re out of town next year.’ That’s just not the way to run a business.”

Ravens players stood by Harbaugh, telling reporters after the loss that they didn't think there needed to be a personnel change.

"No, I don't. We have a lot of confidence in what we can do as a team," Joe Flacco said.

"There are a lot of teams out there that aren't quite in the position that they want to be in; we're just one of them. Obviously, the name of the game in this league is winning football games, and there is always going to be pressure internally and externally when you're not winning games like you want to. We understand that, and we just have to do more." 

When asked about the report of Harbaugh being on the hot seat, linebacker C.J. Mosley responded with, "Let's not worry about that."

The wound of a division loss, especially to the Steelers, is still very fresh. Both Harbaugh and players noted that their bye week will be spent getting mentally, and physically, back on track. And while Harbaugh's future could be in jeopardy, the head coach remains focused on his future with this team.

"We'll keep fighting, and that's what we'll do," he said. 

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The Ravens' future isn't Joe Flacco - but they don't want to face him in the AFC

The Ravens' future isn't Joe Flacco - but they don't want to face him in the AFC

The Baltimore Ravens made it clear after their Wild Card loss that Lamar Jackson would be their quarterback going forward, bringing the somewhat official end to Joe Flacco's 11-year career with the team.

So what's next for the Super Bowl MVP?

Retirement after a fruitful NFL career is an option, but in a league where teams are desperate for a seasoned veteran, Flacco could find himself with another affluent contract. The Ravens, too, could get something nice in return.

"Let's start with a second-round pick," former Redskins GM Charley Casserly said. "It's negotiable, we're going to keep him in pencil. Who am I not going to trade him to? Well, I may not have a choice. I may only have one trade pick. I don't want him in the AFC. I don't want this guy costing me a playoff position next year."

There are several AFC teams in need of a QB, too. The Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars would jump at the chance to get Flacco under center.

But it may not be that easy for the Ravens.

"If the team wants to renegotiate his contract, Flacco controls the trade," Casserly adds. "He can simply say, 'no' [and the] Ravens may have to just release him and let Joe go his own way." 

The former GM adds that he expects something to be settled come March. Why? Casserly places Teddy Bridgewater and Nick Foles as hotter free agency pickups for QB needy teams, and with the 2019 NFL Draft not offering a ton in terms of first-round quarterbacks, the Ravens may have to act fast in order to get a return on their investment. 

One team that is definitely in need of a QB1 is the Washington Redskins. The idea could interest Flacco as his family of seven could stay put in the DMV area. But can the Redskins afford Flacco? 

The team is facing a huge cap charge with Alex Smith, whose career is in question after suffering a catastrophic leg injury, and a rookie they can mold could make more sense than a 34-year-old Flacco.

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Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

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USA Today Sports

Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

The Ravens have reportedly agreed in principle to a new contract extension with head coach John Harbaugh, a move already being praised by national pundits everywhere. 

It was nearly a month ago that the Ravens announced Harbaugh would be returning as the team’s head coach in 2019, which was noteworthy considering his status as a potential lame duck head coach.

In the same release, the team announced they were working towards a contract extension with Harbaugh, whose current deal was set to expire next year.

Despite reports from national NFL insiders, including Jason La Canfora and Peter King, that Harbaugh might prefer to hit free agency as a highly sought-after head coach after the 2019 season, it appears the Ravens will keep him in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. 

This news comes on the heels of a busier-than-usual coaching carousel, with a quarter of the 32 NFL teams changing head coaches in the last month, including two AFC North rivals. Harbaugh almost certainly would have been the cream of the crop among coaching free agents no matter when he became available, so the Ravens were looking to lock him up long term.

After a tough November home loss to the Steelers that put the team at 4-5, Harbaugh was asked about his job security, and he remained steadfast and confident.

"I've never been someone who's worried about keeping a job," Harbaugh said. "It's always been, for me, [about] doing the job. I've got a bunch of great coaches and a bunch of great players that bust their tails every day to do the best job they can. I feel really good about the way this team has been coached for the last 11 years, and for the last number of weeks we've been in the season. So, there are no regrets. Never been any regrets here with me."

After that game, the Ravens rattled off six wins in seven games to make the playoffs, and many players credited Harbaugh with keeping the team together. It was prior to Week 16 when the front office announced Harbaugh would be returning no matter how the season ended, but the strong finish and AFC North title certainly made the decision easier.

A coach with a special teams background, Harbaugh is an anomaly in the current era of young, offensive-minded head coaches. He won Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, and holds a 104-72 career record in Baltimore.

The terms of the new deal have not yet been released, but it will be interesting how many years the team is committing to Harbaugh.

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