Executive of the year: Eric DeCosta

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Rarely does the coach of the year and the executive of the year come from the team. But it’s a rare season in Baltimore.

The Ravens have compiled the best record of the NFL’s 100th campaign. And they have laid the foundation to contend for years to come, thanks to something that happened in 2018.

They wanted Lamar Jackson, they expertly worked the draft board to get Lamar Jackson, and they have assembled the pieces to get the most out to Lamar Jackson. Eric DeCosta, officially the G.M. in 2019 but a key member of the front office for years before that, deserves plenty of credit for that.

DeCosta, who arrived in Baltimore with the Ravens in 1996, has gone from having a hand in the franchise’s consistent success to presiding over the football operation. His first year has resulted in the best regular season in franchise history.

With Jackson’s arrival (and, more specifically, with his placement in the lineup), came a wild-card appearance in 2018, ending the team’s three-year playoff drought. And then began the work to take the team to the next level. DeCosta and the Ravens targeted running back Mark Ingram in free agency, adding punch to the running game and an ideal foil for Jackson. With receivers not inclined in joining what many feared would be a run-centric offense, DeCosta and the Ravens added Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin via the draft. (A pair of tight ends picked in 2018, Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst, has worked out well, too.)

DeCosta and the Ravens shrugged at the departure of defensive stalwarts like C.J. Mosley, Za'Darius Smith, Terrell Suggs, and Eric Weddle, adding Earl Thomas at safety (they arguably overpaid, especially given his performance this year) and relying on the next men up.

It has all worked, incredibly well. Fourteen total wins. Twelve in a row. The top seed for the first time ever. And the kind of potential outcome to the season that could get Ravens fans to officially revise “In Ozzie We Trust.”

Others considered for the award were Packers G.M. Brian Gutekunst and Bills G.M. Brandon Beane. Gutekunst did more in free agency in one year than his predecessor did in his career, helping to transform a non-playoff team into a serious contender. Gutekunst also hired, with CEO Mark Murphy (who probably could be regarded a finalist as well for the products of his more active role in the football operation), coach-of-the-year finalist Matt LaFleur.

Beane has built a roster that meshes perfectly with coach Sean McDermott, and as quarterback Josh Allen continues to develop the Bills will get better and better. They enter the playoffs as a team that doesn’t get the respect they deserve, and that is one signature win away (a divisional round victory at Baltimore or Kansas City would do it) from forcing everyone to take them seriously.

36 responses to “Executive of the year: Eric DeCosta

  1. Lamar Jackson fell to the Ravens, Ingram was the best rb left so they signed him. The others were over payed and like all teams cleaned house by letting them go. Real tough job. Could have done it with my eyes closed.

  2. Ravens getting lots of attention, and rightfully so. Great season. Great job by the executives, coaches and players. Can they really finish off the season on a 15 game win streak and bring home the Lombardi? I’d be amazed and would say that they should be considered as one of the all time great teams if this happens. I still think the KC can play season spoiler, as I said weeks ago. Getting healthy and clicking at the right time. Have an offense that can put up points and a defense that has come to life recently. I hope to see both teams in the AFC Championship game. What a showdown it would be.

  3. He is getting credit for Ozzie Newsom’s work. SMH. Ozzie put this team together.

  4. Belichick to Newsome to DeCosta. Impressive football lineage. Kudos to the Coal Geese of Chesapeake Bay.

  5. I’m not saying this guy is terrible, but seems like an odd choice. The roster hasn’t turned over much within the last year outside of getting Marcus Peters and Earl Thomas. I think Jon Lynch deserves it more.

  6. The ravens execs are getting too much credit for trading down and still getting jackson. If they were so clairvoyant they would have picked him with their original 1st round pick. Dumb luck that he was still there at the end of round 1 and that noone traded up before them to get him when they did.

  7. hawkapalooza says:
    January 1, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    John Schneider gets ignored again.
    *******************************************
    Yeah he does, bummer, but think about what he’s up against! With the NFL salary cap as it is he can only pay his players half of what Pete was paying his players at USC!

  8. Drafting Hollywood, Boykin, signing Ingram and Peters and Thomas, all been great for the Ravens this year , well earned.

    it would be remiss of me if I didn’t add

    Of course Ozzie layed a lot of the groundwork drafting Jackson, Brown Jnr, Andrews, Hurst and Humphrey, Gus Edwards.

    A shining example of how a franchise should be run. From GM to Coach, top stuff.

    Honourable mentions to John Schnieder from Seattle, rebuilding on the fly, in season, and Jon Robinson from the Titans who have built a great team, culture, and a very good coach

  9. hawkapalooza says: John Schneider gets ignored again.

    That’s because so many of his better draft picks are playing for someone else.

    And his recent drafts have been very mixed.

  10. Ravens never passed on Lamar. Why pick him early when no other team is going to draft him in the first round? Hurst was high on many draft boards, so you pick him before Lamar, to get both players.
    Obviously, some of you know nothing about NFL draft strategy.

  11. Has anyone mentioned the Miracle that is Philadelphia?

    Has any team been that hurt and have that many no-names, produce? They were not no names to the Philly GM or coaching staff. Someone had to draft them sign them and coach them.

  12. nite2al says:
    January 1, 2020 at 8:14 pm
    Ravens never passed on Lamar. Why pick him early when no other team is going to draft him in the first round? Hurst was high on many draft boards, so you pick him before Lamar, to get both players.
    Obviously, some of you know nothing about NFL draft strategy.

    ——————————-

    Your statement ignores the obvious risk of a QB needy team trading up to select Jackson. To wit, the Ravens themselves traded with the Eagles to acquire the last pick in the round to get Jackson. Had they really felt he’d be a star, they likely would have pulled the trigger much sooner.

  13. Safe to assume these comments are made by people who only watch Lamar’s highlights on Good Morning Football…

    DeCosta has built a team that will compete for championships over the next three seasons. Current offense is signed through 2021 with the exception of one player. Traded a fifth he got for a kicker, who isn’t even in the league at this point, and a player, Kenny Young who wasn’t playing for a shut down corner, that Rams fans called burnt toast. Marcus Peters and he just signed an extension. Defense was 27th in the league after week 4. Signed Fort, Bynes, Ellis, Peko and Ward, traded for Peters, got Smith back from injury from week one and by the end of the season had a top 5 defense. For all you Chiefs fans, this defense is starting 8 new players from week three.. No one did more in season than DeCosta…

  14. How can you ignore the trade for a backup kicker for a 5th rounder, then trading for eventual pro bowler Marcus Peters for that pick and a healthy scratch linebacker? They are the most impressive things he has done this year. Now he is even signed long term.

    Also not taking Lamar in their first pick shows that the team has a great feel for draft value and was able to gauge everyone else’s interest. Basically got Lamar for two second round picks.

  15. Suppose Jackson gets hurt?
    You could say that about losing any franchise qb, but his skill set is unique.
    Anybody else plays, and the entire playbook goes out the window.
    Will it still look like genius?

  16. January 1, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    Has anyone mentioned the Miracle that is Philadelphia?

    Has any team been that hurt and have that many no-names, produce? They were not no names to the Philly GM or coaching staff. Someone had to draft them sign them and coach them.
    ………………………

    AMEN !

  17. Let’s not forget DeCosta also made the the Kaare Vedvik trade which made the Marcus Peters trade possible. Plus revamping the middle linebackers when it was clear things weren’t working after week 4. DeCosta has been fantastic this entire season.

  18. mattwalshvideo says:
    January 1, 2020 at 7:17 pm
    They wanted Lamar Jackson so bad they took Hayden Hurst before him…….Yawn
    —–
    The point is they wanted him more then any other team. There were 4 QBs drafted before Baltimore drafted Hurst at 25. The fact is all the QB desperate teams had already drafted QBs by then.
    In fact Baltimore did a brilliant job of flipping just one first round pick that year to multiple picks. Per business insider:

    The Ravens had just one pick, No. 16 overall, in the first round. They first traded the 16th pick and a fifth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for the 22nd overall pick and 65th (third-round) pick. They flipped those two picks for the 25th overall pick, which they used to draft tight end Hayden Hurst, and 125th pick (fourth round).

    When Lamar Jackson was still on the board, the Ravens then sent the Philadelphia Eagles a second-round pick (No. 52), the 125th pick, and a 2019 pick for the 32nd pick and the 132nd pick (fourth round). They used No. 32 to select Jackson.

  19. Has anyone mentioned the Miracle that is Philadelphia?

    Has any team been that hurt and have that many no-names, produce?

    ——
    They ‘produced’ against the Skins, Giants and Boyz, so that doesn’t really count

  20. I am a Ravens fan, but a bit of pushback to those who say that the Ravens passed on Lamar Jackson when we drafted Hayden Hurst. The difference between the Ravens and the Browns taking Mayfield and the Jets taking Darnold….is that the Ravens were not in the market for a quarterback. As far as anyone knew, Flacco was going to start the next 3-4 years. It’s rare (I can’t think of an example although I am sure I missing one) of a team with a clear starting quarterback using a first round pick to draft a back-up.

  21. If you really want to understand an unappreciated aspect of the Ravens success, look at their last two bye weeks. Last year and this year. Last year, Flacco suffered his hip injury right before our bye week when we were 4-5. After the bye week, Lamar went 6-1 and easily could have been 7-0 but for a few questionable calls in Kansas City.

    This year, going into the bye week, we were 2-2 and our defense was mediocre. We revamped our linebackers, brining in LJ Fort and trading Kenny Young to get Marcus Peters (and Jimmy Smith healed from an injury) and we have been 12-0 since our bye week. I don’t know who to credit, but the Ravens use their bye week as it should be used – a look in the mirror and what do we need to change?

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