INDIANAPOLIS — Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta welcomed the news that the salary cap will be $255.4 million, an unprecedented $30 million bump from 2023, but the news doesn’t change his strategy.

It certainly makes things easier for the Ravens to pay top free-agent defensive lineman Justin Madubuike, whether it’s through a new contract or the franchise tag. But the Ravens’ philosophy will otherwise stay the same as they attempt to rebuild their roster through free agency and the draft.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re going to just open up the books and go shopping,” DeCosta said at the NFL’s annual scouting combine “That’s not really the Ravens’ Way, but to have that buffer, so to speak, and to give us a little bit more flexibility along the way.”

Madubuike is at the top of a long, extensive list of free agents who impacted the team this past season. Optimally, the Ravens would like to bring everyone back, but DeCosta was realistic in his responses: They don’t have room under the salary cap to do so.

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Safety Geno Stone is a key example. Stone was a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He signed a one-year deal ahead of this season. With injuries in the secondary, Stone got increased opportunities and finished the season second in the NFL in interceptions.

“Geno might be the best seventh-round pick that we’ve ever had — playmaker, attitude, special teams,” DeCosta said, among other compliments. But he followed that up by saying, “He’s put himself in an awesome position. We’re fortunate that we have some good safety depth, and I’m not really sure exactly what that means for Geno and the Ravens, but regardless, I know he’s going to be a great pro. If he doesn’t come back and play with us, he’s going to be a great player for somebody else, and I would expect him to have a great career.”

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The Ravens already decided to bring back one free agent when they re-signed wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Odell Beckham Jr.’s contract, meanwhile, voids on the second day of the League Year, March 14. Coach John Harbaugh said he has his “fingers crossed” that the wide receiver is coming back. DeCosta said Beckham has become a “great friend” and that they’ve been texting, but they’ll “see what happens.” DeCosta added that this year’s draft class has an outstanding group of receivers.

The running back position may also take a hit in free agency. Both Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins are free agents. Justice Hill has one season remaining on his deal, and Keaton Mitchell impressed but has been dealing with injuries. Harbaugh said he loved the way Hill played this year, but the situation at running back is “up in the air.”

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DeCosta said he is talking to both Edwards and Dobbins but that he thinks “you’ll see us make a couple of acquisitions along the way.” He also said the draft was not deep at running back this year, but the Ravens could be active on the free agent market.

While the increase in the salary cap makes it possible for the Ravens to bring some of these players back, DeCosta said it is also important because of what it means for future seasons.

“It helps us this year, but it also helps us in the coming years as we project what we think that salary cap is going to be moving out in years ’25 and ’26, as well,” DeCosta said. “It does give you a bigger picture of the landscape of football and what that means salary cap-wise from a roster-building standpoint.”

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