Suggs, Team Don't Appear Close On Contract

Ravens

July 14, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

There are no signs that the Ravens and Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs will reach a new contract before Wednesday's NFL deadline.

Suggs, to whom the Ravens applied the franchise tag for the second straight year, said 2 1/2 weeks ago that the sides "were close" on a long-term deal. But no agreement appears imminent after the sides talked late last week.

The deadline to reach a new contract with franchise players is Wednesday. If no deal is struck, the sides can't sign a deal until after the season and Suggs would earn $10.2 million this year under the tag.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is on vacation and couldn't be reached for comment.

The Ravens and Suggs have been trying to agree on a new deal since February 2008, when the team first used the franchise tag on Suggs.

Then, on June 26, it seemed as if they were on the verge of a long-term contract when Suggs told The Baltimore Sun: "We are close to an agreement. We just have a few little things to work out."

The Ravens' top pass rusher added that he would "be very surprised if this contract isn't done soon."

Suggs also disputed the notion that he is looking for a contract similar to the one given in 2007 to the Indianapolis Colts' Dwight Freeney, whose six-year, $72 million deal ($30 million guaranteed) made him the highest-paid defender in league history at the time.

There has been speculation that the Ravens have offered Suggs a deal close to the one signed last year by the Minnesota Vikings' Jared Allen (six years, $72.3 million, including a $15.5 million signing bonus).

Suggs, 26, went to his third Pro Bowl this season after leading the Ravens with eight sacks. He finished third on the team with a career-best 102 tackles.

The franchise tag allows teams to keep a player off the free-agent market by giving him a one-year contract worth the average of the top five salaries at the player's position, or 120 percent of the player's salary the previous year, whichever is greater. Because the Ravens have used the "exclusive" franchise tag, Suggs can't negotiate with other teams.

The Ravens have repeatedly indicated that they don't want to keep Suggs under the tag.

"You have to look at it as an opportunity for us to enter into a long-term deal," Newsome said after using the tag on Suggs in February.

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