BALTIMORE -- Ozzie Newsome, a fixture in the Ravens organization since its inception, will step down as general manager after next season, handing the reins of the player personnel decisions over to Eric DeCosta, owner Steve Bisciotti said at Friday's State of the Ravens address.
"We had talked after the '13 season and it was about Eric, and Ozzie agreed to re-do his contract for a five-year extension in which he case he would turn over the 53-(man roster) to Eric. That's a year away," Bisciotti said in response to the first question of a 40-minute news conference. "Ozzie will step down as GM and has assured me that he's not going anywhere and that he will work with me and work with Eric for a smooth transition."
The 61-year-old general manager and executive vice president built two Super Bowl championship-winning teams in Baltimore, made the Ravens front office one of the gold standards in the league and has had a trailblazing career as a top NFL executive. Though he will no longer be the organization's top decision maker, he will remain with the team in an unspecified role.
"He'll be the highest-paid scout in America when Eric takes over next year," Bisciotti joked of Newsome. "I was not inclined to make a change in what we had worked on four years ago."
Newsome told The Sun following the news conference that "there will be very little change."
"I don't know what my title will be, but I still will be a very big part of the organization. I'll be in the building and working with the team every day as usual," Newsome said. "This is all part of a five-year plan that I worked out with the owner near the end of my contract. Eric will have the title of general manager, which is part of the transition, but there will be very little change. Right now, my focus is on getting ready for the draft, the combine and free agency."
His decision to accept new responsibilities leads to the promotion of longtime lead assistant DeCosta.
DeCosta, who has been with the organization since 1998 when he was hired as an area scout, has been the Ravens assistant general manager since 2012. DeCosta, 46, turned down numerous opportunities to interview for open general-manager jobs over the years and Bisciotti had publicly declared him as the likely successor to Newsome.
"I think he has learned from Ozzie and he's a great leader of the scouts. It's Ozzie's department but most of the interaction with all of the scouts is with Eric," Bisciotti said. "I've seen the way he goes about the business. I've seen the way he's embraced technology and analytics. I like working with him. I think it's pretty evident by the fact that we were getting called every single year to try to get him, and it's a matter of it's time. There are people running other franchises that got the jobs because Eric wouldn't take it. This year, it was the Packers. To me, that's the best job in the NFL. Working for me is the second best."
The decision comes after the Ravens were beaten at home by the Cincinnati Bengals in a regular-season finale they needed to win to get back to the postseason. The loss was arguably the most devastating regular-season defeat in franchise history and prompted many fans to call for widespread change within the organization.