OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta had plenty of nice things to say about J.K. Dobbins.
He was also pretty reticent about the possibility of a new contract for the running back.
“I try to keep that stuff in house," DeCosta said. “We’re excited to see what he is going to do this year. He’s a talented player. I know he wants to be here. We want him here. I have a lot of respect for him as a person and also as a competitor.”
DeCosta spoke with reporters Friday, discussing the state of the team with the season opener just over a week away. While the Ravens have put Lamar Jackson's contract saga in the rear-view mirror, Dobbins' future appears uncertain. He's entering the final season of his rookie deal — at a moment when veteran running backs are having a hard time convincing teams of their value.
DeCosta said it's important to be smart about who you pay and when you pay them, but he insisted if the player is good enough, he's worth prioritizing, regardless of his position.
“We’ve paid inside linebackers. We’ve drafted safeties in the first round. We’ve drafted a center in the first round," he said. "Those aren’t your typical most important positions. We’ve paid left tackles a lot of money. We’ve paid corners a lot of money. We’ve paid quarterbacks a lot of money.
"So I do it based on how good the player is, not necessarily, ‘Well, this position you should give a ton of money to, and this position you can’t give any money to.’”
Dobbins rushed for 805 yards as a rookie in 2020, but he missed the entire 2021 season because of a knee injury and missed nine games last season. He began training camp on the physically unable to perform list, but eventually began practicing. Dobbins last week called DeCosta the best GM in the game and said “whatever happens, happens” when it comes to his future.
DeCosta sounds excited to watch Dobbins on the field without any lingering injury problems.
“When he’s played, he’s been a warrior. He’s played through injuries when he’s been able to,” DeCosta said. "He’s a leader. I think he’s respected. I have a strong affinity for him, personally, and we’re very excited that he’s back. He’s healthy this year. He looks great, and he’s ready to go.”
The Ravens, of course, finally signed Jackson to a big five-year contract during the offseason. He appears to be past the knee problem that ended his 2022 season early, and there's certainly a lot less drama now surrounding the star quarterback.
“Lamar’s attitude has been excellent this year,” DeCosta said. “I think last year was a challenging year for a lot of reasons, obviously, just where he was with his contract. ... He’s throwing the ball very, very well. He’s been able to build a great rapport with the receivers very, very quickly.”
The Ravens did plenty to upgrade their wide receivers, signing Odell Beckham Jr. and drafting Zay Flowers in the first round.
“It’s just encouraging to have so much depth,” DeCosta said. “I will say this — it’s the first year where other teams have called us looking for receivers. I actually thought it was a joke at first.”
The Ravens kept Jackson and backup quarterback Tyler Huntley on their 53-man roster after final cuts this week, and they re-signed Josh Johnson Thursday after releasing him Tuesday. DeCosta was asked to comment on reporting that Baltimore was interested in Trey Lance, the quarterback who was recently traded from San Francisco to Dallas.
“I would say that’s just bad reporting. If somebody calls you and asks if you’re interested in a player and you say no, does that mean you’re interested in that player?” DeCosta said. "I think there’s a lot in terms of cui bono — who does it benefit? And when you see a report like that … We’ve got good quarterbacks, we love our quarterbacks, we weren’t looking to add any quarterbacks at all this training camp is what I would say on that.”
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Noah Trister, The Associated Press