On Monday at 4PM the bell will sound signaling the start of the NFL’s free agency period. That also coincides with the time when all teams must be in salary cap compliance.
Big names will hit the street.
One of those big names is Ed Reed and for the Ravens the All World safety represents a conundrum for Ozzie Newsome & Company.
Like any negotiation, there’s a process – a natural ebb and flow, pull and tug where both sides try to assess value by weighing the plusses and minuses.
Players are usually represented by agents who have their own, and of course their clients’ best interests in mind. But for the moment, Ed Reed is representing himself.
And that’s a problem.
Ed as we all know is a volatile guy with wide mood swings. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a really good guy but when the topic is his career, Cybil comes to mind. One day he’s retiring; one day he’s planning on playing another 5 seasons.
Let’s hope it’s the former!
Here’s the way this will play out…
The Ravens will encourage Ed to test the market just as they did when Ray Lewis was an unrestricted free agent. Now we’ve all heard how much Bill Belichick loves Ed. It wouldn’t shock me if an Ed Reed Fathead decorates the wall in Coach Hoodie’s office. But really it isn’t New England’s style to pay top dollar for aging superstars.
The Colts may look to land Reed. After all he and Chuck Pagano go back to Ed’s high school days when the Indy head coach recruited the then promising teenager. But what is Pagano willing to pay Ed?
Reed isn’t hurting for money. Those who know him best consistently insist he spends modestly given his means and really doesn’t have to play anymore to support his family.
So when Reed sits down at the bargaining table, representing himself, he’ll be negotiating more for pride than for the zeros to the left of the decimal point. He still sees himself as elite – not just among safeties, but among all players and he’ll look to be paid accordingly.
Who is going to pay Ed, a player in the November of his career, who can’t tackle and one who doesn’t make the impact plays he once did, more than the $8M he earned in 2012?
Are you hearing that 49ers’ chant in your head right about now?
I remember back during training camp last summer, Ed took the field and enthusiastically exclaimed just before practice, “I hate my job but I love football!”
When reality sets in and Ed discovers that he will no longer be paid as one of the game’s elites, he may hate his job even more, ultimately retiring.
And from where I sit, I hope that that is exactly what happens if he can’t wrap his mind around a short-term cap friendly deal with the Ravens.