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Ravens GM Eric DeCosta discusses changes to evaluating kick returners with new rules

The Baltimore Ravens have long-been known for their special teams prowess across the NFL, especially under head coach John Harbaugh. The team executes at an extremely high level on that side of the ball, spending plenty of capital to make sure they are to the highest special teams standard possible.

The NFL introduced new special teams rules during the 2024 offseason, specifically on kickoff returns. Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta was asked about how evaluating returners has changed with the new rules in place, and talked about the special teams culture that they’ve already established.

“Well, that’s a good question. And I would say this, that I’ve been blessed to have a head coach who’s a special teams coach, and we have excellent specials teams coaches upstairs. Those guys are really valuable to me whenever we discuss special teams and what these rule changes might mean and the type of players that we’re looking for and the skillsets that we’re looking for. So, we want athletes, and we want playmakers. They have to catch the ball. They have to be able to break tackles. They have to be able to make guys miss. So, I think we’re in the process of addressing that in different ways. There’s certainly some skilled guys in the Draft, some excellent returners – we’ve talked about a few guys already – and I think we’ll be in good shape in September.”

The Ravens lost wide receiver Devin Duvernay to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the offseason, but subsequently signed former Buffalo Bills wideout Deonte Harty to fill the void. Both players are known primarily as returners, but with new rules changing the landscape of kickoffs, the league could see a shift in what’s valued in a returner.

Story originally appeared on Ravens Wire