Former Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome supported franchise icons who left for more money

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Ryan Wormeli
·3 min read
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Ex-GM Newsome supported Ravens who left to earn more money originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

For as much as Hall of Famer and longtime Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome cares about about his former organization, he cares about its players even more.

When you draft as many franchise icons as Newsome has, starting with his very first pick in 1996 (Jonathan Ogden) all the way through his very last first-round pick in 2019 (Lamar Jackson), a few of those players are bound to leave Baltimore eventually. The salary cap is a math problem, and even the best teams can't afford to keep everybody.

But as disappointing as it is to say goodbye to legendary Ravens when they continue their careers elsewhere, Newsome never regretted it. To him, the important thing was that the players he cared about earned as much money as possible during their short professional windows -- even if it meant leaving Baltimore. 

"To start with, once a Raven always a Raven. We’ll start with that," Newsome told Shannon Sharpe on the Club Shay Shay podcast. "You know what, as anything in life, you understand there’s a limit to how far you can go. Can you fudge it a little bit? Yeah. But when you have to look at the totality of what you’re trying to do, and build a football team, you can only go so far. So at some point, and I’ve said this, I said it to you when you went back to Denver, I want you to make all the money you can make, which is all I can pay you. If you’ve got a chance to go make some more somewhere, please go. This is all I can do."

Newsome has seen this scenario play out a number of times with the Ravens. There are seven players who clearly stand out in Pro Football Reference's career Approximate Value metric as the greatest in franchise history.

Of those seven, only three finished their careers without ever wearing another jersey -- Ray Lewis, Ogden and Marshal Yanda. But Ed Reed ended in Houston and New York for a season. Terrell Suggs split a season with the Cardinals and Chiefs. Joe Flacco was traded to Denver and now plays for the Jets. And Haloti Ngata played another four seasons in Detroit and Philadelphia after his nine in Baltimore.

Flacco was traded because the team was ready to turn the keys of the offense over to Jackson. But they all left at points past their primes, where the money they were able to find elsewhere simply wasn't a number Newsome and the Ravens could justify matching anymore.

Of course, players leaving won't ever mean Newsome has forgotten what they brought to the organization and the city while they wore purple and black.

"And you know what, we still can hug and shake hands, because I appreciate what you’ve done, but you know you only have so many years that you can make this type of money," Newsome continued. "And you need to go ahead and make it if you can. And if you can’t, I’ll welcome you back. You’re still part of the family."