Bisciotti: 2008 a 'bonus'

Ravens owner confident deal with Suggs will get done

Sun Exclusive

March 23, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Steve Bisciotti is coming off his most successful season as the Ravens' majority owner, winning his first playoff game and coming within one victory of the Super Bowl. At the NFL annual meetings yesterday in Dana Point, Calif., Bisciotti spoke with The Baltimore Sun about the future of his franchise, from locking up Terrell Suggs to increasing ticket prices to the Ravens' chances of competing in an uncapped season in 2010.

How did it feel to get your first playoff win as the majority owner?

Honestly, that didn't register when we got it. What I remember - not that I was majority or minority owner - but the press talking about us not winning a playoff game since 2001. So, in my mind, just win one game because I hated that statistic hanging over the Ravens. I don't want to say I would have been satisfied with one game. But I didn't go into the season expecting a playoff performance anyway. To me, it was all gravy.

So what expectations did you have for the 2008 team?

I'll be honest with you. I told John [Harbaugh, Ravens coach] at the beginning of the year that if he secured his spot as a leader of this organization and we drafted a quarterback that may well be our franchise quarterback, I really didn't care about our record. I would consider it successful if I had my coach and the quarterback of the future. It was all a bonus. The success vindicated me a little bit in the tough decision that I made.

Do you envision franchise linebacker Terrell Suggs to be a long-term Raven like a Ray Lewis or an Ed Reed?

Yes. There's no doubt in my mind that we'll get a long-term contract done with Suggs. I think the way the contracts get accelerating - and everybody keeps passing each other as the highest paid this or that - I think it puts more pressure on Ozzie [Newsome, general manager]. But Terrell is a wonderful personality to have on your team. I'm pretty encouraged that they'll work it out.

Were you disappointed in how Ray Lewis handled himself this offseason in regard to talking about other teams?

No. It humored me.

How did it humor you?

It didn't bother me at all because Ray is one of the great self-marketers. I think he's a brilliant guy. I would have been disappointed had he not done the best to try and generate interest from other teams. I was just amused.

Would you consider giving wide receiver Derrick Mason the extension he's asking for?

Sure, we're already entertaining it. In these negotiations, it's Ozzie's job to make sure that something that benefits Derrick also benefits us. If the numbers are right - and Derrick certainly doesn't look like he's slowing down - then we could sign him to an extension and it would be cap friendly for us.

Some fans were upset about the increase in ticket prices (even though the team has traditionally done it every two years) because of the economy. What was the main reason for doing so?

When I took over the team, the Modells had a history of raising the tickets every other year. So, I have always said it's important to keep our tickets at a level that allows us to have the kind of cash flow that makes us able to compete with the other teams in the league. This was the hardest one I have had to deal with because of the economy. It's not my favorite thing to do, but you have to do it to stay competitive.

Which free-agent loss hurt the most: Bart Scott, Jason Brown or Jim Leonhard?

I hope it doesn't hurt the others for me to be honest, but it's Bart Scott. If he's a free agent when he's 32 years old and we're in the market for a linebacker, it would be a slam-dunk. It would take Ozzie 15 minutes to cut that deal. I wish [third-round pick and linebacker] Tavares Gooden were a cornerback. Then, it might have made it a lot easier on us.

What do you think about the decision to not re-sign Matt Stover in the first month of free agency?

If the NFL gave us a waiver to carry 46 players on game day [instead of the 45-man rule], then it would be a slam-dunk. We would have Stover re-signed. It took me a while to understand the ramifications of keeping two kickers [a place-kicker and a kickoff specialist]. Matt can never get back the 70-yard leg that is going to knock the kickoff in the end zone.

What's your confidence level in new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who has been in the NFL only one year?

Obviously, it's high because I trust John Harbaugh's ability to assess people's talents and capabilities. Greg and Ray have a mandate. That's to prove that we can survive without Bart and Rex [Ryan, former defensive coordinator]. Nobody in Baltimore is rooting against that. We have all confidence in the world that Greg and Ray are going to make sure that transition is pretty seamless.

Are the Ravens one or two players away from the Super Bowl?

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