Former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees shot down any notion that he was pushed out the door when he retired last month, saying the Ravens had offered him a contract extension.
Pees' retirement proved to be short-lived, as he was hired as the Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator less than a month after retiring, fueling some speculation that the Ravens had essentially asked Pees to retire.
"I was offered by [Ravens head coach] John [Harbaugh] to come back, an extension on my contract, so I wasn't forced to retire," Pees told Tennessee media. "I want to be very clear. My eight years in Baltimore were fantastic. They could not have treated me any better. I loved working for John Harbaugh."
Pees, 68, said his return to the field was fueled both by the chance to work for his former player, new Titans coach Mike Vrabel, and a quick realization that he missed the game he had been so closely involved with for more than four decades.
"After about two weeks, I was ready to come back," said Pees, who had been coaching football at some level for 45 years, the last eight with the Ravens. "I really started second-guessing myself a little bit. Is this really what I wanted to do? .... Did I really do the right thing?"
In addition to coaching for Vrabel, who played for Pees for five years with the New England Patriots, Pees will be coaching with his son, Matt, who was added to the Titans' staff as a defensive assistant.
The Titans finished 9-7 last year, edging out the 9-7 Ravens for one of the two AFC wild-card spots. The two teams will meet in Nashville next season, and Pees said "the arrow is very much up" on the Titans' organization.
Known for disguising his defenses and for innovative schemes, Pees led a Ravens defense that ranked in the top 10 overall from 2014-2016. This year, the Ravens' defense finished 12th overall. But after the Ravens invested heavily in both free agency and the draft on the defensive side of the ball, expectations were high for this group, and the results were uneven.
The Ravens led the league in interceptions (22) and posted three shutouts, one shy of the franchise record. But they also allowed 231 yards rushing by the Chicago Bears, the most ever by a Ravens opponent, and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger torched them for 506 yards during a 39-38 Steelers win.
Then in the season finale, the Ravens surrendered a late 90-yard scoring drive, including a 49-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-12 in the final minute, that lifted the Cincinnati Bengals to a 31-27 win and knocked the Ravens out of playoff contention.
The next day, Pees announced his retirement, citing his desire to spend more time with his family.
When asked at the "State of the Ravens" news conference Feb. 1 about Pees' abrupt about-face, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said, "I'm happy for him. I'm a little shocked ... It's hard to give it up, I guess."