The Ravens might be hard-pressed to keep their heir apparent to general manager Ozzie Newsome.
Four teams -- the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders -- are expected to seek permission to speak to Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta for their general manager openings. In many ways, DeCosta has become the Jeff Fisher of front-office searches.
The Colts have already received permission to talk to DeCosta, according to WBAL's Gerry Sandusky, the team's radio play-by-play announcer.
DeCosta has long been considered the successor-in-waiting to Newsome, the team's only general manager, who turns 56 in March but has never publicly hinted at retirement. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has rewarded DeCosta for his loyalty -- he removed his name from the Seahawks' general manager search in 2009 -- with an increase in pay and responsibility.
"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," Bisciotti said in March 2010. "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."
The problem for the Ravens is that the perfect job could be coming DeCosta's way. With four teams in the mix, the competition for DeCosta might result in a deal that he can't refuse.
DeCosta officially became Newsome's right-hand man in the war room in 2005, when Savage left for the Cleveland Browns' general manager job. One team official said DeCosta sets up the draft and Newsome makes the final decisions.
What makes DeCosta attractive to so many teams is his age (40), track record and a thoroughness that highlights his desire for better results.
"We even grade our lunches," DeCosta once said. "If I say it's a 6.2 lunch - all the guys know what that means: pretty good, but not great. A 7.5 is like the Pro Bowl; if I say the soup is a 7.5 today, everybody runs to get the soup."