Blown chance

The Ravens' Terrell Suggs

Team cannot offer new contract until after season

July 16, 2008|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

If the Ravens want to sign defensive end-linebacker Terrell Suggs to a new contract, they'll have to wait until the end of the season to do so.

The Ravens were unable to reach an extension with Suggs before yesterday's deadline. Under NFL rules, teams had until 4 p.m. to reach extensions with franchise-tag players.

General manager Ozzie Newsome said there is "no question" the Ravens will look to strike a new deal at the end of the season. Suggs would become a free agent in March if the Ravens don't sign him or use the franchise tag again.

"We view him like Ed Reed, Todd Heap, Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden," Newsome said. "He is one of those guys that we want to keep a Raven."

According to a league source, there was hope the Ravens could reach a new deal with Suggs after sending him "a very serious offer" Monday. But it wasn't enough to entice Suggs to sign yesterday.

Suggs, 25, will earn $8.5 million this season as a hybrid defensive end-linebacker.

He has yet to sign the tag, which technically means he is not under contract and would allow him to skip training camp without any penalties or fines.

Suggs told The Sun in February that he has yet to decide whether he would hold out of training camp, which begins July 24 for veterans. He did not practice at any of the minicamps this offseason.

"At this point, I don't know," Suggs said five months ago. "I love my teammates, and I want to be there for them. Before I make a decision, I'll talk to a lot of people. I'll confide in Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, see what they think I should do and what is best for everybody."

Suggs' agent did not return phone calls yesterday.

The Ravens kept him off the free-agent market this season by franchising Suggs as a linebacker Feb. 19.

But Suggs filed a grievance nearly two weeks later, saying he should receive the one-year tag for a defensive end - which is $800,000 more than a linebacker would earn - because he played more than half his snaps as a pass-rushing end.

The Ravens and Suggs avoided a hearing by essentially creating a new position - a hybrid defensive end-linebacker - and splitting the difference between the two tags.

Suggs was the 10th overall selection in the 2003 draft.

In five NFL seasons, Suggs has 45 sacks and has earned two Pro Bowl selections (2004 and 2006). Last season, he had a career-low five sacks but had a career-best 80 tackles.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Ravens training camp preview coming Sunday

The Ravens open training camp under new coach John Harbaugh next week when rookies report Monday to McDaniel College in Westminster and take the field Tuesday. In Sunday's Sun, look for insight into the big changes surrounding the Ravens, compelling camp story lines, things to do in Westminster and an overview of NFL teams heading into camp.

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