Suggs Deserves Big Deal - Not Raw One

April 20, 2009|By DAVID STEELE | DAVID STEELE,david.steele@baltsun.com

Once again, Terrell Suggs is to be commended for the way he is handling his contract situation with the Ravens. He is wearing the franchise tag for the second straight year, even though he wants a long-term deal (and even though the Ravens seem to favor giving him one). He's waiting for his payday patiently and quietly, and not waving his arms, shouting, "What about me?"

Which he would be entitled to do if the Ravens do what appears to be the public's bidding and trade for Anquan Boldin.

If the Ravens do trade for Boldin and give him the contract he has been battling - apparently unsuccessfully - to get from the Arizona Cardinals, then Suggs would have every right to open up and let fly in full regular-season fashion.

Suggs has waited his turn, and now, no matter who's dangling out there, nobody should bogart the line on him.

Not that the Ravens' need for a major-impact wide receiver is any less extreme because of Suggs' in-limbo status. Not that Boldin is not exactly what Joe Flacco, Cam Cameron and the offense need, or that he's not potentially the final piece that gets the Ravens past the Pittsburgh Steelers and into the Super Bowl. Or even that he's not the best-case scenario for getting that piece (as opposed to drafting it, because we know how that usually turns out).

Yet none of those is a good enough reason to tell Suggs to hold on a little longer, until they take care of this one extra thing. And without a doubt, they're not good reasons to risk losing him. I say that if the choice comes down to keeping Suggs or getting Boldin, keep Suggs. The Ravens will be better with Suggs and without Boldin than the other way around.

Of course, technically, they can keep both, as long as Suggs is tagged. But aside from allegiance to the cold economics of the sport, why do that? Hasn't he earned better treatment than that?

Fellow linebacker Adalius Thomas was allowed to move to greener pastures; later, so was Bart Scott. The reason supposedly was to make sure Suggs could be retained. He wasn't expendable two years ago, or two months ago. Today, he should be even less expendable. Even if the return is Boldin.

Suggs has done the right thing, handled his tagging with maturity. He shouldn't be made to do that forever. In no way should he be taken for granted or made to feel he is.

Just since February's free-agency period, Suggs has seen Ray Lewis get his big, final contract and the Pittsburgh Steelers' James Harrison sign for a truckload of money. Of course, that works in Suggs' favor whenever his people sit back down with the Ravens' people.

But it stands to reason that, because it will take more than just two high draft picks to bring Boldin from Arizona - meaning, a new deal - the Ravens won't have much choice but to ask Suggs to hold on a little longer.

The problem is, however, that the Ravens don't have to ask. Unless the guys at the Castle in Owings Mills have more than the usual salary cap magic up their sleeves, their best play on Suggs is to ride out this franchised year and figure things out later. Again.

Would Suggs do it, to accommodate what might be the player who brings that second Lombardi Trophy to town? He might.

Should he? No. Should he even be asked to? Double no.

Listen to David Steele on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. on Fox Sports 1370 AM.

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