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Loss to Chiefs still stings, but Ravens have no choice but to move on toward a busy offseason

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — It's always tough when your offseason begins just before the Super Bowl.

When Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh met with reporters Friday, it was clear last weekend's loss to Kansas City in the AFC championship game still stung.

“Every single team in the league is going to have that feeling after losing in the playoffs. I get it, I feel the same way. I’m telling you, I’m heartbroken,” Harbaugh said Friday. “I’m heartbroken. The fact that we didn’t win that game at home in front of our crowd for the first time in all these years and get a chance to play in the Super Bowl.”

The show must go on, however, and that meant DeCosta was off to the Senior Bowl the day after the Ravens were eliminated. Baltimore has plenty to be happy with after this season. The city was hosting that AFC title game for the first time in 53 years. But now the Ravens have quite a few free agents they might need to replace in what should be a busy offseason.

That's a tough task to face after the 2023 Ravens posted the best record and best point differential in the league during the regular season.

“I love the team, the players, the chemistry, the culture, the camaraderie — every single day, these guys came to work. The coaches, the effort they put into it. The job the scouts did. It was a great season,” DeCosta said. “Disappointing at the end, of course. It always is for most teams. I don’t have the luxury of really dwelling on a season.”

The Ravens have already lost defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who left to take the head coaching job with the Seattle Seahawks. Baltimore promoted inside linebackers coach Zach Orr to defensive coordinator.

The Ravens also lost player personnel director Joe Hortiz, who left to become the GM of the Los Angeles Chargers — who are now coached by Harbaugh's brother Jim.

“Joe was already involved in that job. He was involved in that job before Jim was ever even finished with his season,” Harbaugh said. “I think, when they got their two finalists — and then Jim was involved with both the interviews — he loved both guys, and he thought they were both great. But the fact that they knew each other already is good for Jim, and I think it’s good for Joe. And it’s a really great hire.”

Baltimore spent the first part of last offseason trying to reach a long-term contract with star quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Ravens eventually did, but only after putting the franchise tag on him.

Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike seems like a candidate to receive the tag this year, but DeCosta wasn't about to comment on that.

“Not to revisit the Lamar negotiations, but one of the great things about that negotiation was that I learned that it’s beneficial to just not talk about things,” DeCosta said. “There is a value sometimes to not really showing your cards or showing your hand. So, we’ll have all those decisions made at some point coming soon. We don’t have a lot of time.”

The running back position could also change dramatically. J.K. Dobbins, who missed almost all of this season because of an Achilles tendon injury, can become a free agent. So can Gus Edwards. Rookie Keaton Mitchell showed promise this season but went down with a knee injury.

“Well, I’m glad we have Justice (Hill) on a two-year deal,” DeCosta said. “We’ll see where things kind of lay with Gus and J.K. ... two guys that I have a lot of respect for, two outstanding players for us over the past three or four years. We’ll look at the draft, we’ll look at free agency.”

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