OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ozzie Newsome’s reign as the only general manager in Baltimore Ravens history will come to an end after the 2018 season.

Newsome signed a five-year extension in 2014 with the understanding that he surrenders the post to assistant general manager Eric DeCosta at the end of the contract, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said Friday.

ERIC DeCosta

DeCosta is a 1993 graduate of Colby College. A linebacker at Colby, DeCosta was a captain on the 1992 team.

“Ozzie will step down as GM and has assured me that he’s not going anywhere,” Bisciotti said. “He will work with me and work with Eric for a smooth transition and he’ll be the highest paid scout in America when Eric takes over next year.”

Newsome, 61, has been in charge of filling out the roster since the Ravens arrived in Baltimore in 1996. His first two draft picks were Jonathan Ogden – who became a Hall of Fame offensive lineman – and Ray Lewis, who is expected to enter the Hall this year.

Newsome is also a member of the Hall of Fame. Following his standout career as a tight end with the Cleveland Browns, Newsome made the transition to the front office under former Ravens owner Art Modell. With Newsome leading the way, Baltimore won two Super Bowls and reached the postseason five straight years from 2008-12.

DeCosta, 46, joined the Ravens at an entry-level position in 1996 and was schooled by Newsome. Since becoming assistant general manager in 2012, DeCosta spurned numerous job offers from other teams with the assumption, then assurance, that he would inherit Newsome’s job.

“I think he has learned from Ozzie. I think he’s a great leader of the scouts,” Bisciotti said of DeCosta. “It’s Ozzie’s department, but most of the interaction with all the scouts is with Eric. I’ve seen the way he goes about the business, I’ve seen the way he’s embraced technology and analytics, and I like working with him.”

BILLS: Director of training operations Bud Carpenter is retiring after 33 seasons with the team.

Carpenter was among the team’s longest serving active employees. He spent 21 seasons as the Bills’ head athletic trainer before being promoted to the director’s role in 2016.

THREE DAYS after Washington’s surprising trade for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith signaled the unofficial end of Kirk Cousins’ tenure with the team, Cousins addressed his future with reporters in Minneapolis. In the first of several scheduled interviews on Radio Row ahead of Super Bowl LII, Cousins said finding his next team “should be an interesting process.”

“It was a surprise,” Cousins told USA Today Sports’ Mike Jones of Tuesday’s trade. “I was actually working out at my hotel room here in Minneapolis and when I finished the workout went over to my phone and saw the news. Every player looks forward to free agency. It looks like I’m going to be a free agent on March 14. I guess there are still some dates to check off, but it should be an exciting process.”

Before Tuesday’s news, Cousins said he felt “there was a good chance” he would be back in Washington.

POLL: It isn’t that hard for the NFL officials to explain away the 9.7 percent decline in its television ratings this season (which followed an 8 percent drop in 2016). Everyone is watching less network TV, they can say, and ratings are down for programming across the board.

But new poll results from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News, released just two days before the Super Bowl, might be a little tougher to dismiss.

In a survey of 900 adults conducted Jan. 13-17, the two news organizations found that the number of adults who say they follow the NFL closely has dropped 9 percent since 2014. But that might not even be the poll’s worst revelation for the league, because it also found that only 51 percent of men aged 18 to 49 – the league’s core audience, in other words – say they follow the NFL closely, a 24 percent drop from four years ago.

The poll did not ask respondents why they are following the league less, but a separate set of questions may provide at least part of the answer. According to the poll, 53 percent of mothers said they would encourage their child to play a sport other than football due to concerns about concussions, up from 40 percent in 2014. Of the poll respondents without children, 49 percent said they would encourage their child to play another sport, up from 43 percent four years ago. Fewer poll respondents think the NFL is taking meaningful action on head injuries, as well: Only 47 percent think so, a 12 percent drop from 2014.

The NFL has gotten its share of negative publicity this season thanks to a perfect storm of events: players protesting and President Trump criticizing them for it, injuries to star players, the league’s baffling inability to pin down what, exactly, constitutes a catch, unappealing matchups for nationally televised games, teams either fumbling or ignoring the league’s protocol for dealing with head injuries.

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