Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Ravens' Suggs to be designated as franchise defensive end-linebacker
By John Clayton
Terrell Suggs entered his franchise free agency with a debate over whether he was a linebacker or a defensive end.
Thanks to an agreement by the Ravens, Suggs' agent, the Management Council and the NFL Players Association, Suggs gets the best of both worlds. The settlement, which is being finalized by lawyers for the NFLPA and the Management Council, creates a new position in franchise designations -- a defensive end-linebacker. Once the paperwork is completed later this week, Suggs, designated as a franchise linebacker, will be re-designated as a defensive end-linebacker, and his one-year franchise tender will increase from $8.065 million to around $8.5 million.
Suggs challenged his designation as a franchise linebacker by claiming he had more snaps as a defensive end than he did at linebacker last season. A franchise player is tendered at the average of the top five cap numbers at that position. The difference can be substantial. A franchise linebacker has a $8.065 million tender. A franchise defensive end has an $8.879 million tender.
The differences in negotiations are even more pronounced. The highest paid defensive ends -- Dwight Freeney of the Colts and Jared Allen of the Vikings -- make around $12 million a year. Top linebackers make in the $7.7 million to $7.8 million a year range.
For months, negotiations were stalled because of the debate over the position. Suggs filed a grievance, asking a Special Master to determine his true position. Being a team player, Suggs showed up at the first minicamp under first-year coach John Harbaugh to show him he was on board with his hiring.
Recently, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome went to Suggs' agent, Gary Wichard, with the idea of creating a hybrid position to move negotiations forward.
The new position doesn't officially have a name. It could be called "defensive end-linebacker." It could be called hybrid for the players who move between defensive end and linebacker during the course of games.
What Suggs and the Baltimore are hoping is that they can come together on a deal that will make Suggs a Raven for a long period of time.
Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.