- Ashley Fox
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The Ravens aren't going to pay him between $10 million and $11 million overall for two years, no matter how loyal Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is to his guys. Those are the numbers Houston is offering, given what a source told ESPN's John Clayton.
If Reed wants to take money out of the equation and finish his career where it started 11 years ago, albeit at a deep discount, then that's one thing. If Reed wants to make a money grab -- and at this stage of his career, with this likely being his last contract, no one would blame him if he did -- then he should take Houston's offer, because he isn't going to get a better one, especially from Baltimore.
And really, it is time. The Ravens can cut ties with Reed, a beloved member of the franchise, and be good. They can do it with a clear conscience. They won a Super Bowl with Reed, despite all the insanity of last season, when Reed flirted with retiring or quitting or spending time with his family or whatever he was going to do.
Baltimore stood by him. It won with him. And a decade from now, when he is retired, Reed can come back with Lewis and Boldin and Ray Rice and Joe Flacco and celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their greatest professional achievement, and there should be no bad blood. There should be cheers and roses and good feelings.
It ended the way it was supposed to, with Reed on top.
And now it should end.
One of Newsome's many endearing qualities as a general manager is that he is fiercely loyal to his guys. He wanted Jonathan Ogden to play his entire career for one team. He wanted Lewis to play his entire career for one team. He likely wants Reed to play his entire career for one team.
But at some point, to be an effective team builder, you must take emotion out of the equation. Newsome knows that. He likely wants Reed to stay, but it would need to be at the right price, and even then, what would the Ravens be getting exactly? With a title in hand, would Reed want to work as hard as he would need to in order to keep his body fresh? He is a ball hawk, yes, but he will turn 35 years old in September. That is ancient for a safety. What would Reed have left?
There is also another new dynamic at play. Since winning the Super Bowl, coach John Harbaugh now has more credibility and power than he ever had in his previous five seasons in Baltimore. Then, he was a former special-teams coach who hit on a quarterback in the draft and proved he could win with a team that was historically strong on defense.
Now, Harbaugh is a Super Bowl-winning head coach who helped build a formidable offense and kept a team together even when it nearly fell apart last season. He is a Super Bowl-winning coach who fired his offensive coordinator late in the season, and the offense got better. He is a Super Bowl-winning coach who has proved he can lead men and who now has the cachet and clout to make personnel changes, to get rid of players who challenged him in the past, and to send the message that when the organization asks a player to take a pay cut, it is because the organization needs the player to take a pay cut.
If there was a time to move on from the last vestige of the defense-is-first era in Baltimore, now would be it. As one AFC source said, if a team isn't smart with its money and its contracts, and if it lets emotion into the negotiations, "then you become the Pittsburgh Steelers."
The Ravens don't want to become the modern-day Steelers, which is why Baltimore let Kruger go to Cleveland for big money and Ellerbe go to Miami for big money. The Ravens didn't view Kruger as an every-down pass-rusher, and they certainly weren't going to pay him $40.5 million. And while they wanted to retain Ellerbe, they weren't going to do so for $35 million.
Baltimore wasn't going to reach for Kruger or Ellerbe, and it won't reach for Reed, either. Maybe the Ravens would pay Reed $5 million for one year. Maybe. But $11 million for two seasons when Reed is past his prime? That's not going to happen, nor should it, no matter how many players the Ravens have lost off their Super Bowl team.
This is it for Reed. He needs to realize it and move on, because as long as the Ravens' brass keeps emotion out of the negotiation, they will do the same thing.
12mJohn Keim and Adam Caplan