It wasn’t until the confetti started falling on the players’ heads in the Superdome that I realized Ray Lewis had just played in his final NFL game. I thought to myself the city of Baltimore has just lost the face of their franchise. I’m going to assume that most Ravens fans believe the torch will be momentarily passed to Ed Reed, despite his free agent status heading into the offseason. However, there are several reasons why I don’t believe the Ravens front office should bring back one of the great safeties to ever play professional football. Am I crazy? Let’s look at the facts.
“Father time will always be undefeated” – Charles Barkley
Reed had hip surgery in 2010 and last October he let the media know he was playing through a torn shoulder labrum. Both of these injuries (according to my physical therapist wife) will severely affect your range of motion and cause pain during certain movements after the injury heals. Even the most casual Ravens fan has noticed Ed’s lack of tackling skills. He’s also not as quick to the ball as he’s been in years past and several errant throws that would have been interceptions in previous years fell harmlessly to the turf. Ed Reed is one of the toughest guys in the Baltimore locker room. The perception that he’s “lazy” or “doesn’t care” stems from these injuries, not from his lack of desire. He just isn’t the player he used to be and his play on the field is indicative of that.
Salary Cap Implications
The former Miami Hurricane made $7.7 million in 2012 and despite saying it’s “not about the money,” that’s exactly what it’s about in the business of the NFL. I doubt his pride will allow him to take much of a pay cut heading into 2013. The NFL Salary Cap for 2013 is $121,500,000 and a giving Reed 6-7 million dollars with Suggs’ and Ngata’s bloated cap figures currently on the books won’t leave much room to keep guys like Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe. That’s not even considering the huge deal that it will take to keep Joe Flacco in Baltimore long term.
We all remember the 11-year veteran leaving his playing status up in the air even after missing a mandatory minicamp last year. How do we know he won’t decide in a month that he wants to hang up his cleats for good? In the meantime any viable replacement on the free agent market has been gobbled up by other teams. Then there were the rumors of a locker room mutiny during the season where Reed, Pollard, and others questioned the decisions of Coach Harbaugh. Ed Reed marches to the beat of his own drummer, I get that, but this offseason for the Baltimore Ravens is crucial. Some of their biggest playmakers are free agents and Ray Lewis’ leadership is gone. The last thing they need is Reed wondering for months upon months whether he wants to keep playing or ride into the sunset as a Super Bowl champion.
Ed Reed is not only one of the greatest Baltimore Ravens of all time but also one of the best safeties to ever play the game. His foundation has helped tons of local youth and his charity work has helped to make Baltimore a better place. Unfortunately, the NFL is a business and keeping a player on the downside of their career not only hurts your chances of winning on the field but it also hurts your chances of adding quality players in the offseason. This is arguably the most important offseason in Ravens history. At the “State of the Ravens” press conference Ozzie Newsome said their goal was to build a team to not just repeat but win multiple Lombardi trophies over the next decade. The only way to do that is to make difficult personal decisions.
Letting Ed Reed play elsewhere in 2013 will be the first of those difficult decisions.