Baltimore had an opening because Dean Pees decided to retire hours after the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals. Martindale's name immediately surfaced as a potential successor.
Another potential candidate was former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who previously served as the Ravens defensive coordinator. Steve Spagnuolo, the New York Giants defensive coordinator this past season and a Ravens senior defensive assistant in 2013, and Vic Fangio, a former assistant coach under Harbaugh who served as the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator in 2017, were also mentioned.
However, Harbaugh stressed the importance of having continuity and decided Martindale, Baltimore's linebackers coach this past season, was the best fit. Martindale is entering his 14th season as an NFL coach and served as the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos in 2010.
"'Wink' has earned the promotion to defensive coordinator," Harbaugh said in a statement. "His aggressive mentality will serve to take our defense to new levels. He is obviously respected by players, many of whom have already benefited from his direct coaching at the linebacker position. He knows the ins and outs of what we have been about on defense and has been an important contributor to our success on that side of the ball. This is an exciting day for Wink and his family, and also one for the Ravens."
Martindale, 54, joined the Ravens in 2014 and served as linebackers coach from 2016-17 and inside linebackers coach from 2012-15. Under his guidance, C.J. Mosley has developed into one of the league's top defenders, earning three Pro Bowl berths in his first four seasons.
In addition to Martindale, Harbaugh promoted Mike Macdonald to linebackers coach and Sterling Lucas to quality control-defense.