Reed due to be best-paid safety

Defensive stalwart, Ravens agree on 6-year extension


The Ravens and fifth-year player Ed Reed reached an agreement yesterday on a six-year contract extension that will make him the highest-paid safety in the NFL.

The deal will include about $15 million to $16 million in guaranteed money, according to a league source.

All the terms of the contract were not available, but Reed's new deal will carry though the end of the 2012 season. According to two league sources, Reed is expected to make more than $6.5 million a season, which is more than Washington Redskins safety Adam Archuleta, who became the highest paid at the position in March when he signed a six-year, $30 million contract that included a $10 million signing bonus.

The move also signals a shift for the team. Reed, the Ravens' top draft pick in 2002 out of the University of Miami, seems to have reached the financial plateau reserved for inside linebacker Ray Lewis as the unquestionable leader of the Ravens.

"Ed is one of the bright young stars in the NFL," said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. "He's already had outstanding production, including his MVP season in 2004. He's an emerging leader on our defense and to the whole team for that matter. The way he works, the way he prepares speaks volumes to his teammates."

Last season, the Ravens had to deal with running back Jamal Lewis, who admitted his effort was affected because he thought the team reneged on signing him to a new contract during training camp. Also, Ray Lewis isolated himself from teammates during the season after the Ravens declined to offer the linebacker a contract extension.

But the Ravens signed Jamal Lewis to a new deal in the offseason, and now have Reed under contract. Privately, Reed was disappointed last season that he didn't have a new deal, especially after tight end Todd Heap got a new contract in June. Reed threatened to hold out during the 2005 training camp.

"It's just one of those things removed from his plate," said Newsome. "He was deserving of a new contract, and now he can concentrate on football this season, and for the rest of his career with the Ravens."

About six months ago, the two sides were at a stalemate because the Ravens wanted to pay Reed only as a top safety. Reed wanted to be paid as one of the league's top playmakers. Reed eventually won out in a deal that owner Steve Bisciotti helped broker, according to a team source.

He earned that reputation as a playmaker during the 2004 season when Reed led the NFL with a team-record nine interceptions, and broke the league single-season record with 358 interception-return yards, surpassing San Diego's Charlie McNeil's 349 in 1961. Reed broke another NFL record that year with a 106-yard interception and was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year.

Reed had only 40 tackles last season, 49 fewer than in 2004, but he missed six games because of an ankle injury. His absence made a huge difference. With Reed in the lineup, the Ravens can take away the deep middle of the field against the pass. He's good at crowding the line of scrimmage, either as a pass rusher or a run stopper. In his four-year career, Reed has 307 tackles and 22 interceptions. He has broken up 61 passes and blocked four punts, three of which he returned for touchdowns.

Reed declined to comment, and his agent, Gene Mato, was not available.

"It was his time. He has earned the contract," Newsome said.

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