Q&A with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti

March 22, 2010|By Jamison Hensley | jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Steve Bisciotti has enjoyed a great run of success with back-to-back playoff seasons, but the Ravens' owner knows there are some intriguing questions facing the future of his franchise and the NFL. At the league annual meetings Monday in Orlando, Fla., Bisciotti spoke with The Baltimore Sun's Jamison Hensley about the big-picture outlook for his front office, the timeline for coach John Harbaugh's extension, his reluctance to talk to safety Ed Reed about retirement and the prospects of no football in 2011.

Question: Do you expect a lockout in 2011?

Answer: I'm very optimistic that we'll get a deal. Whether that's pre-March [2011] or before the preseason opener, I don't know that. I'm not on the labor committee. I'm very optimistic that we're going to be playing football in 2011. There is enough intelligent and talented people on both sides of that table that are going to get it done.

Labor peace is the biggest incentive for me, period. Everything else matters to me: the discontinuation of my business, the effect that it has on fans and stadium workers. I think our country could go into a mental collapse if we don't have football for a year (Bisciotti smiles).

Everybody knows how important the league is. Appreciating the importance of football is the reason why I remain optimistic. They'll find a way to get it done.

Q: Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' director of player personnel, removed himself from the Seattle Seahawks general manager search this past season. Have you talked to him becoming the general manager-in-waiting to Ozzie Newsome?

A: When he turned down the Seattle offer, we didn't encourage him to do that. He did that on his own, which inspired us to say, 'Get through the draft, and we'll talk about your future.' I think Eric knows how highly regarded he is in Baltimore, but when you have a guy as successful as Ozzie Newsome in the job, there's not a ton of promises that you can make.

If Ozzie had indicated to me that he was on a short-term time frame, then I could be more pro-active with Eric. But we want Oz to be here as long as Ozzie wants to be here. I've been given no indication that that's anytime soon. But we'll sit down with Eric and talk to him about his future.

I think Eric is smart enough to see what happened with Phil [Savage] and George [Kokinis], and he'll probably limit himself to consideration of just a handful of jobs. His relationship with Ozzie is just as solid as any relationship I've seen in the NFL. He's so happy in his job that I think it will take a perfect job to get his serious consideration. Eric is going to make a great GM someday.

Q: What assurances can you give DeCosta?

A: I can't really say until Dick [Cass, team president], Ozzie and I get it done. We're going to try to create incentives for him to want to stay. Most of that incentive is built-in in that he loves his job and he loves Baltimore. I think it would take an incredible offer from an incredible team in a perfect city for Eric to say he's not willing to wait.

Q: Have you talked to Ozzie Newsome about his future?

A: Enough to know that Ozzie doesn't have an end game in mind. If he did, then it would make it easier to talk about Eric's future.

Q: Ravens safety Ed Reed has talked about possibly retiring. Have you spoken with him?

A: It's something that I've wanted to do. It's like scratching that itch. I desperately want to get an inside track at it, yet I don't know whether he would appreciate being asked his status. I'm rather confident that anything I would say wouldn't influence his decision. That's the reality. As much as I want to know, I don't think my begging is going to change his final decision. I have to refrain from calling him because I know it's not going to change things.

Q: You know Ed Reed. Do you think he will retire this season or next?

A: I don't know Ed that well. But the one thing I do sense is that he'll be happy and content being a high school football coach, if that's what he chooses to do. He has a special demeanor that he could be happy to walk away. But I also think that Ed could be happy playing until he's 38 years old. When you're dealing with an injury, it's got to be weighing heavily on his mind.

Q: Your first three moves of free agency -- signing Donte' Stallworth, trading for Anquan Boldin and retaining Derrick Mason -- all involved wide receivers. Are you happy how the Ravens upgraded that position?

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