Ravens extend John Harbaugh with four-year contract, keep coach in place through 2022

The Baltimore Ravens finally took care of something they'd been promising to do for the last several weeks, announcing an extension for coach John Harbaugh on Thursday afternoon. 

Harbaugh, who led the team to the playoffs in 2018, was heading into the final year of his contract and had been the subject of much speculation, including a debate about whether he would be brought back by the Ravens in 2019 or even possibly traded to another team. 

Leading up to the matchup against the Chargers in Week 16, the Ravens announced they were retaining Harbaugh for 2019 and would work out a new contract.

Even with that done, nothing was certain until Thursday when Baltimore announced the news.

Perhaps the biggest sign that Harbaugh was committed to returning to the Ravens was his handling of Lamar Jackson during the rookie quarterback's first playoff game. With the Ravens struggling to produce any offense against the Chargers, everyone was calling for Joe Flacco to step in and take over under center.

Harbaugh stayed the course, and it nearly got the Ravens back in the game. More importantly -- at least for his long-term future -- it signaled to ownership his intent on building around and winning with Jackson, who was taken with a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft (No. 32 overall).

It is interesting to note that Harbaugh did not mention working with new GM Eric DeCosta in his statement on the extension, although he did reference owner Steve Bisciotti.

DeCosta takes over after years of Ozzie Newsome running the show, and there could be some power struggles there depending on how the two want to approach the draft. But it wouldn't make sense to sign Harbaugh to a four-year deal if the two weren't aligned on their approach to roster construction.

The bottom line for the Ravens is this was a smart move, one that should have been more of a no-brainer decision.

Harbaugh is a Super Bowl-winning coach who has produced quality teams and quality defenses almost every season that he's been in Baltimore. You can question whether or not the offense has been good every year, but I would point out that the presence of Joe Flacco, while steady, has prevented the Ravens from ever becoming dynamic on that side of the ball. Jackson should change that if things work out. 

Committing to Jackson by promoting Greg Roman to offensive coordinator was smart too, and now there is some consistency in the quarterback's second season. 

Additionally, look at the market out there and tell me who the Ravens were going to hire that would be an upgrade over Harbaugh. There isn't anyone. A new coach would be a gamble, and you can't gamble with a roster like the Ravens, not with a young quarterback who developed pretty well down the stretch.

It remains to be seen whether the Ravens offense from last year -- a run-heavy, read-option approach -- can be sustainable over the long haul, but at least the Ravens know who will be solving that problem. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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