Monday, February 17, 2014
Will Terrell Suggs be a Raven for life?
By Jamison Hensley
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- For a movie buff like Terrell Suggs, it would be a Hollywood ending for him to follow the likes of Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden and finish his career with the Baltimore Ravens.
Is it realistic to think Suggs will be a Raven for life?
At this point, there's a chance that could happen but it's far from a guarantee. All Suggs did Monday by signing a four-year extension was give himself a shot to take his final bow in Baltimore.
If you listen to Suggs, there's no doubt that he's retiring as a Raven. During his 20-minute news conference, he mentioned that he will be a "Raven for life" three times. "That's the plan, unless [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] has a trick up his sleeve," Suggs said.
What stood out to me was Newsome never expressed the same optimism.
"This gives Terrell the opportunity to continue to play football in Baltimore," Newsome said. "Now that he has the additional four years, hopefully he continues to play real good football for us."
Suggs is relatively young at 31 for someone who has played 11 years in the NFL. He has been durable, missing a total of only 11 games due to injury.
But rushing the passer is a young man's game. In the past three seasons, only two players over the age of 30 (Robert Mathis and Cameron Wake) have ranked in the top five in the NFL in sacks.
In addition, Suggs hasn't been the same dominant player since winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011. Injuries limited him in 2012 and inconsistency dogged him in 2013. In the last eight games last season, Suggs managed 20 tackles and one sack. He believes he tried to do too much instead of letting the plays come to him.
"Basically the plan going forward into the offseason is to hit another level," Suggs said. "I came back in phenomenal shape last year, and I plan on coming back in phenomenal shape this year."
Suggs received an $11 million signing bonus and is guaranteed $16 million in the next two seasons. The Ravens are essentially on the hook with Suggs for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. If Suggs isn't worth the $4 million salary after that, the Ravens may decide to cut him after the 2015 or 2016 seasons. Then it's up to Suggs, who would be 33 after the 2015 season, whether he wants to continue to play or retire as a Raven, as Lewis did a year ago.
"I've learned the value of the word 'legacy,' being on one team and in one uniform your entire career," said Suggs, who ranks first in franchise history in sacks and second in tackles. "I don't want to go anywhere else. This city loves me."