Three things to consider regarding Terrell Suggs’ free agency

The Baltimore Ravens are well into the off-season at this point and with the Super Bowl approaching Sunday, I started thinking a good deal about Terrell Suggs and the likelihood of him returning to Baltimore for another season in the purple and black.

Suggs has made his intentions clear on whether or not he would consider retirement or not this off-season by saying, “I don’t feel the itch. Ain’t no hair standing up on the back of my neck right there.”

Suggs doubled down after the AFC Wild Card season ending loss to the Chargers saying, “I’m healthy, and I still feel like I have some juice in the tank. I would love to be a Raven for life. We’ll have to see what happens. It’s a long time between here and March. So, we’re just going to enjoy it and hope we can work it out. If not, I’ll be lining up for somebody next year.”

The thought of T-Sizzle lining up for someone else gives me nausea. Then I stumbled across this nightmare scenario on twitter:

Curse You Adam. You should be suspended from Twitter for even planting the seed that Suggs could be lining up for Lord Belichick.

There are a ton of things that go into the decision on whether or not to bring Suggs back as he hits free agency. Here are three things that I am considering.

suggsasu

Suggs was selected with the 10th overall pick out of Arizona State in 2003. Image Credit: Morris Trophy

1) Tradition/Our Guy Factor

Suggs’ accolades in Baltimore are endless. It started for Suggs in 2003 when he took home AP Defensive Rookie of the year honors in his first year out of Arizona State by notching 12 sacks and five forced fumbles. He is a seven time Pro Bowler. He was the 2011 AP Defensive Player of the year award winner.  He was also named first team All-Pro in that historic 2011 season where he piled up 14 sacks, two interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

He is the Ravens all time sack leader and ranks tied for 13th in NFL history with 132.5 career sacks.  That mark puts him second among active players trailing only Julius Peppers who has 159.5 career sacks. He has played all 247 of his career games as a Raven and has always been considered one of the more popular players in Baltimore.

Trying to picture a Ravens defense that doesn’t feature Suggs, Ray Lewis, or Ed Reed doesn’t feel right. Those three players were the cornerstones for a dominant era of defensive football in Baltimore that yielded incredible success including the 2012 Super Bowl season and several other deep playoff runs. After that Super Bowl run, Lewis retired and Reed should’ve before he opted to play a meaningless year in 2013.

That left Sizzle as the last man standing from the old guard. Suggs picked up a Pro-Bowl season in 2013 by registering 10 sacks. He waited until 2017 before earning another Pro-Bowl nod after picking up 11 sacks. He has also worn a Bane Mask and a Gladiator helmet as he has become the star of Ravens pre-game intros.

i

Terrell Suggs has worn the Bane mask several times in an effort to get the crowd going. Image Credit: Sportswire

USP NFL: PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS S FBN USA MD

Image Credit: USA Today

Despite all of Suggs’ career accomplishments and cherished antics, the Ravens will have a tough decision on their hands in deciding what their future with Suggs will look like.

On one hand he is one of the leaders of the defense and a staple of Baltimore football for the last 16 years. On the other hand Suggs is turning 37-years-old in October and is coming off a season in which he tallied just seven sacks. That was his lowest total in a season where made 13+ starts since 2009 when he finished with 4.5 sacks. Suggs also picked up just 1.5 sacks from week seven onward, a possible sign of fatigue from an aging player.

The Ravens need to be careful this off-season because any deal they look to strike with Suggs is indicative of the player that he is right now and not the player who has earned a Ring of Honor spot throughout his career.

bs-sp-ravens-eric-decosta-general-manager-20190110

It will be Eric DeCosta deciding the fate of Terrell Suggs as he takes over for Ozzie Newsome. Image Credit: Baltimore Sun

2) What is the market value of a 36-year-old pass-rushing linebacker?

The Ravens have often lived by the mantra “right player right price” throughout Ozzie Newsome’s tenure as the GM. This has been pivotal throughout the history of the Ravens as they have consistently let talented defensive players leave in free agency only to be proven right when they flop in their new homes. Paul Kruger, Pernell McPhee, Dannell Ellerbe, and Jamie Sharper are just a few that come to mind that were out of Baltimore because of this line of thought.

But as we all know Newsome isn’t the GM in Baltimore anymore. Eric DeCosta, long rumored to be the GM in waiting for the Ravens, officially took over the GM role on January 11. Whether or not DeCosta will follow suit on the “right player right price” mantra remains to be seen. Tune in to his press conference Wednesday to learn more on that.

aa8ea0408dcdea0dafeb04c5b57da0df

Julius Peppers contracts in recent years with the Panthers should be a good starting place for the Ravens in talks with Suggs. Image Credit: AP

With that being said, what is the value of Suggs at this point? In 2017, the aforementioned Peppers (37 at the time) earned a one year $3.5 million contract with the Panthers that included $1.65 million guaranteed coming off of a 7.5 sack season with the Green Bay Packers in 2016. He performed well in 2017 picking up 11 sacks and was rewarded with a another one year deal worth $5 million and $2.5 million guaranteed. Peppers had five sacks during the 2018 season.

You’d have to imagine that any deal for Suggs would need to be similar to either of the most recent Peppers deals. Especially when you consider the “our guy factor” that likely played a part in the Peppers negotiations as well.

Suggs earned $4 million last season so the Ravens would be right in the ballpark to offer him a similar contract this off-season. The issue would come if Suggs wanted another multiyear deal and he felt he could fetch that additional year or more money elsewhere (please not New England). He could also be trying to find a situation that best positions him for another Super Bowl run.

He’s ending up in New England isn’t he…….

gettyimages-626148986-1024x1024

With other defensive talents potentially on the way out, the Ravens may want to keep Suggs. Image Credit: Getty Images

3) Other Free Agency Question Marks

Suggs isn’t the only leader or pass rusher on the Ravens top ranked defense that is in danger of not returning for the 2019 season.

C.J. Mosley and the Ravens are already locked in contract talks. The 26-year-old four time Pro-Bowler will be looking for a new deal this off-season that will rank him among one of the top paid players at his position. If that deal isn’t offered in Baltimore, it is likely that Mosley would be able to find it rather quickly on the open market.

Mosley, while a liability in pass coverage, is pivotal to what the Ravens do in the running game and has a knack for making big plays in big moments. Mosley also wears the green dot at times for the defense, meaning that he is in communication with the defensive coordinator to relay plays as well pre-snap adjustments and other things. If I had to guess, Mosley will be back in the purple and black next season.

Fellow green dot leader Eric Weddle is also currently in limbo regarding his return to the Ravens. The 34-year-old safety has one season left on his current contract and is due to make $6.5 million. He also accounts for $8.25 million against the cap overall. Weddle appeared to lose quite a few steps this season.

He had said after the end of this season that his plan would be to play out the final year of his contract in Baltimore or he would ride off into the sunset but switched course this a week ago saying “We’ll see” in regards to whether or not he would play next season if the Ravens choose to move from Weddle. I’d guess the Ravens will look to cut Weddle this off-season for the salary cap relief.

1038997972.jpg.0

Za’Darius Smith’s situation could play a role in whether or not Suggs is back in Baltimore as well. Image Credit: Baltimore Beatdown

As far as the pass rush is concerned, Za’Darius Smith hits free agency for the first time in his young career as well.  Smith is coming off of a career year where he notched 8.5 sacks and figures to rewarded handsomely in free agency.

If Mosley and Weddle go, it could make Suggs a higher priority to sign this off-season. Moving on from your three defensive leaders one year removed from boasting the best unit in football wouldn’t be ideal. That situation could open the door for other players to step up into that leadership role like Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Williams among others.

If Smith walks as well, the pass rush would consist of Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser, and Tim Williams. Bowser and Williams have been relatively non-existent in their first two seasons in Baltimore tallying a total of 5.5 sacks in a combined 46 games.

The last link to the great Ravens defenses of old could be out the door this off-season. And while his on-field production has decreased, Suggs could prove to be a difficult piece to replace.

Image Credit: USA Today

Advertisements

Podcast Episode 34: Talking Ravens OC change, who’s going to the Super Bowl, and the red hot Terps

Continue reading

Ravens: Five thoughts on the 53-man roster

BALTIMORE — The NFL’s roster deadline has passed, and the Baltimore Ravens have trimmed their team down to 53 players. The 53 guys the Ravens retained will continue their work at the castle to prepare for next Sunday’s season opener against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium.

Between Friday and Saturday, the Ravens waived 27 players and placed four on the injured reserve list. The Ravens also shipped Kamalei Correa to the Tennessee Titans last week for a sixth-round draft pick. This year’s roster cuts saw a different trend than previous seasons, as a handful of high-round draft picks were either released or traded.

Now that the roster cuts are finalized, here are five thoughts.

1. Keeping three quarterbacks was the right move

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the Ravens’ 53-man roster is Baltimore’s decision to keep three quarterbacks – Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson, and Robert Griffin III. The Ravens have not done so since 2009, when they kept Flacco, Troy Smith, and John Beck.

After watching both Griffin and Jackson throughout the preseason, this was the right call. Even though Jackson looked much better in the final two preseason games than he did in the first two, his arm is still very raw and he still needs to learn when and when not to put his body on the line and absorb hits.

RGIII spent a whole season out of football after a five-year run in the NFL, much of which was spent on injured reserve. Several of Griffin’s injuries were a direct result of taking too many hits. In the preseason, Griffin was willing to throw from the pocket and only run when absolutely necessary. He even displayed an ability to slide, a skill that Griffin said he picked up during his time out of the NFL.

Without a doubt, Flacco is the Ravens’ starting quarterback, and Jackson will likely back him up. Just because the Ravens have three quarterbacks on the roster does not mean that all three will be active on every single gameday. That sounds like a waste, but keeping Griffin in the fold will pay off huge dividends for Jackson’s development. Who knows, if the Ravens get to October or November and feel like Jackson has made huge strides, maybe they shop Griffin around and see if a team in need of a quarterback would consider a trade.

And in the event that Flacco goes down, they already have a Plan B with two quarterbacks and won’t need to sign a backup.

2. Breshad Perriman is officially the Ravens’ biggest draft bust

It’s never fun to point something like this out, especially considering how genuine a guy like Breshad Perriman is, but now that he’s been cut he is now the Ravens’ biggest draft bust in franchise history.

Perriman never got going during his time in Baltimore. After being drafted 26th overall in the 2015 Draft, Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a PCL sprain. Then in a 2016 minicamp practice, he suffered a partially-torn ACL and did not return until late in training camp. He also missed the entire 2017 preseason with a strained hamstring.

This summer,  Perriman participated in the entire offseason program for the first time in his career. Although reporters say that this offseason was Perriman’s best, the problems that have plagued Perriman in the past – drops leading to interceptions, lack of aggressiveness on 50/50 passes – continued during preseason games. He did catch a 32-yard touchdown pass from RGIII in the Ravens’ 33-7 win over the Rams on Aug. 9, but that was Perriman’s one shining moment. The rest just was not good enough.

Perriman finishes his Ravens career with 43 receptions for 576 yards and three touchdowns. Last year, he failed to reach 100 reception yards with 77 yards on just 10 receptions. No touchdowns.

Prior to Perriman, Sergio Kindle held the honor as the Ravens’ biggest draft bust. After the Ravens took him in the second round (43rd overall) in the 2010 Draft, Kindle fell down two flights of stairs in the summer and fractured his skull. He played in three games over two seasons for the Ravens with one career tackle. But considering he was a second-round pick, Perriman takes the cake as Baltimore’s biggest bust.

The Ravens and many close to the team will hope for nothing but the best for Perriman. Hopefully he receives (pun intended) an opportunity somewhere else and improves his game. It simply wasn’t working in Baltimore.

3. Keeping Janarion Grant takes Chris Moore and Willie Snead out of ‘danger zone’

After Janarion Grant and Tim White battled it out throughout camp at returner, the Ravens elected to keep Grant, an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers. Both White and Grant coughed the ball up in the second preseason game against the Colts, but Grant rebounded to the point where the coaching staff felt comfortable enough to give him the returner job.

Over the last few weeks, it was rumored that if the Ravens were to cut both Grant and White, wide receivers Chris Moore and Willie Snead would handle the duties at returner. This scenario would have put Moore and Snead into the ‘danger zone’, meaning that running them out to return kicks and punts would increase their chances of suffering an injury.

Both Moore and Snead are expected to take on pivotal roles in the Ravens’ offense this season. Simply put, keeping five receivers with Moore and Snead handling additional return duties was not necessary, especially since Grant proved that he’s capable. Barring injuries, Grant will not see much time on offense. This allows him to put all of his efforts into being a returner.

The Ravens have lacked a consistent returner since Jacoby Jones was in town. Grant has a long way to go, but the Ravens may have found something in him.

4. Inside linebacker and tight end are team’s thinnest positions

For the most part, the Ravens’ roster is pretty stacked, but there are still weak areas. The two that stick out the most are inside linebacker and tight end. Both positions have four players listed, but only three are healthy.

At tight end, the Ravens will count on Mark Andrews, Maxx Williams, and Nick Boyle to step up while Hayden Hurst recovers from a foot surgery. At inside linebacker, Kenny Young hurt his knee during the first half of Thursday’s game against the Redskins and was spotted on the sideline with a brace on the knee during the second half. If Young’s injury is a multi-week ailment, C.J. Mosley, Patrick Onwuasor, and undrafted rookie Chris Board will carry the load.

Both Hurst and Young’s injuries are big blows. The Ravens drafted Hurst 25th overall and wanted to plug him into the offense right away. Now they likely won’t have him until October, and even then he will probably not be at full speed. Baltimore took Young in the fourth round and he challenged Onwuasor throughout camp, appearing to be one of the most athletic players on the roster. The status of Young’s knee is unknown, but Baltimore keeping him on the 53 probably means that the injury is not long-term.

The depth at tight end and inside linebacker will improve once Young and Hurst return. For now, and likely the first few weeks of the regular season, it’s definitely shaky.

5. Fingers crossed that Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown stay healthy

The Ravens offensive line, along with many other offensive lines in the NFL, struggled in the preseason. Injuries also took a toll, as starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley suffered a knee strain against the Colts and Greg Senat injured his foot against the Dolphins and sequentially went on injured reserve. Stanley returned to practice this past week and all signs point to him playing on September 9, but he’s already dealt with a handful of minor injuries in his short NFL career.

Orlando Brown Jr. held his own in his extended preseason action. He played more snaps than anyone on the team and will likely start at right tackle against Buffalo. His technique and footwork need to improve, but he makes up for it with his 6’8″, 345-pound frame.

The Ravens will cross their fingers that Stanley and Brown remain healthy throughout the season, because the backup options at tackle appear to be James Hurst and Jermaine Eluemunor. Hurst’s history at left tackle does not bode nearly as well as his time at left guard. Eluemunor has struggled at both tackle and guard in his playing time to-date. If any of Baltimore’s starting tackles, notably Stanley, suffers an injury and misses games, Joe Flacco may have to run for his life.

An interesting piece of news that came out on Saturday was the Colts releasing Austin Howard, who started 16 games at right tackle for the Ravens last year. Howard was worthy of starting last season, but nothing he did made you excited; he was average. His level of play went down further this preseason, and now he’s back on the free agent market.

Given the Ravens’ lack of serviceable depth at tackle, a reunion with Howard sounds intriguing. However, Howard being cut right before the regular season says a lot about what the Colts thought about his play. Remember when the Ravens re-signed Jeremy Zuttah last offseason and then cut him less than a month later?

The Ravens should certainly consider giving Howard a workout, but don’t count on them reaching for his services.

Image Credit: Scoopnest