The long, hard road to the Super Bowl begins as soon as the celebration is over. While the players are still celebrating; the top brass got back to work today and held a press conference to discuss the state of their team.
The Ravens are determined not to repeat their mistakes from the past. When they won Super Bowl XXXV in 2000, they faced a salary-cap crunch and restructured the contracts of many veteran players to retain them. The plan backfired the next season when they lost in the divisional playoff round and were forced to make drastic cuts to their roster. The Ravens only made the playoffs once in the next four years.
This time they won’t mortgage the farm, instead they will aim for consistency.
General manager Ozzie Newsome is optimistic that they will reach an agreement with MVP quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco just finished the last year of his original five-year contract. The team failed to reach a new agreement before the start of the season.
They hope to come to terms on a new agreement instead of using the franchise tag on him.
“I will take that five weeks behind the league every year,” he said with a laugh. “We’ve started already.”
They will discuss personnel issues this week; then head to Florida to discuss the free agency including which players they will keep and who they will let go this offseason. Finally they will prepare for the NFL Combine and draft in April.
When asked if linebacker Ray Lewis, who just retired after a 17-year stint with the Ravens had coaching plans, head coach John Harbaugh said that Lewis wasn’t interested in coaching, he said that he asked him and was told “no”.
Owner Steve Bisciotti mentioned that the team plans to honor Lewis by putting up a statue in the next year or two:
“The fact that you said ‘maybe,’” Bisciotti said, referencing the question, “I’ll say absolutely maybe. Yeah. We have to work that out.” “I think he set himself apart in Baltimore sports history and we will certainly look into it,” Bisciotti said. “I would not be surprised if there is one there in the next year or two.”
The Ravens are ready to get back to work and look ahead to next season:
“We talked to our team about [how] we’ve got to improve,” Harbaugh said. “We have to get better next year as a football team. That’s always going to be our goal.