Re-signing Suggs Was Heads-up Play

July 16, 2009|By MIKE PRESTON

The Ravens have made several solid moves in the offseason but finally made a big splash by signing Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs to a six-year, $63 million contract.

According to a source close to Suggs, $38 million of the contract is guaranteed the former Arizona State star and an additional $2 million could be added through options and bonus clauses.

There is debate about whether Suggs should be the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, but who cares? After five seasons, Suggs has already established himself as one of the best pass rushers in the game.

And here's the best thing about the deal: Suggs is just 26. He is entering his prime, so the best years of his career will be played in a Ravens uniform. It's a great investment by the Ravens.

"Based on history, we're getting a great player who is just starting to really understand the game and his role on the team," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Suggs is at the point where he is just starting to become a leader on the field for us. It's a win-win situation for the player and the Ravens."

There are a couple of things that make Suggs special. At 6 feet 3 and 260 pounds, he is a physical specimen. He has a lethal, quick first step, as most great pass rushers do, and super-quick feet that allow him to blow by most offensive tackles. He has a relentless desire to get to the quarterback, as did outside linebacker Peter Boulware and defensive end Michael McCrary, former Ravens pass-rushing greats.

But Suggs has something McCrary and Boulware didn't have - unbelievable strength in his hands and arms that allows him to toss offensive linemen. Combined with his ability to change directions quickly, that usually means blockers have to double-team him.

Suggs has 53 career sacks and last season had a career-high 102 tackles. He has been named to the Pro Bowl three times. In the AFC championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, Suggs had two sacks despite playing with a severe shoulder injury after not practicing all week.

He came up big in a big-money game, and the Ravens finally came up big Wednesday for Suggs after designating him as the franchise player the past two seasons.

The two sides agreed to the deal late Tuesday as Newsome prepared to board a flight to Alabama.

"I guess I will be at training camp on time now," Suggs said, laughing. "I'm only 26 years of age, and my best years are ahead of me. I can only get smarter as my years of experience pile up. I wasn't sure this deal was going to get done even though I kept saying it was close. I thought the chances were about 50-50, and I definitely didn't want to get franchised again.

"I think it was a fair deal and both sides compromised in the end. I've always been a fans-type player, and this allows me to do what I do best, and that's play football. I don't have to be concerned about a contract."

Suggs has always been an entertainer. At times, he can get carried away with show-boating antics, but he's not a malicious person. He's just a player who had to grow up mentally and into that big body. There will always be a kid inside Suggs.

There were times early in his career when he would disappear in games against top-notch offensive tackles. Not anymore. Opposing offenses have to game-plan for Suggs, especially in passing situations.

"And we got him for six more years," Newsome said.

Newsome kept his word during the negotiations. He likes to point out that few of the team's No. 1 draft picks have left Baltimore in their peak years, and this sends a message to players such as defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

"The Ravens have a history of taking care of their guys," Suggs said.

"Players like Ed Reed and Ngata have nothing to worry about because the film doesn't lie. The Ravens came through for me."

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