The emotional roller coaster that is football fandom has essentially been in free-fall since the high of winning Super Bowl XLVII for most Ravens faithful. On the heels of Joe Flacco’s record-breaking contract, most fans were aware that re-signing all of the team’s free-agents wasn’t possible – but they didn’t know it would turn out like this.
Anquan Boldin was traded, Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe are in their new cities swimming in cash, and Bernard Pollard has suddenly found himself unemployed. Saying goodbye is difficult to any significant contributor of a Super Bowl team, but on the heels of the retirement of the greatest linebacker to ever play the game, are Ravens fans prepared to lose one of the greatest safeties ever as well?
Don’t shoot the messenger, but what seems like fiction may soon turn into a fact – it’s unlikely Ed Reed will return to the Ravens.
According to a reliable source close to Russell Street Report, the Ravens’ biggest offseason accomplishment will be to get younger and faster on defense. Given that the Ravens didn’t see fit to overpay for Kruger and Ellerbe and were comfortable to release Pollard, it seems likely that Ozzie and Co. are staying strong to their “right player, right price” motto.
The Ravens allowed three players under the age of 28 to leave the Under Armour Performance Center for good, which doesn’t bode well for Reed, who will turn 35 during the first week of the 2013 regular season.
The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday afternoon that Reed will make his first free agent visit Thursday, to the Houston Texans. Over the weekend, Reed had hired an agent, David Dunn from Athletes First, to represent him. Dunn was originally thought to have been hired to represent Reed and shop him throughout the league before bringing the Ravens a qualifying offer to at least match.
Dunn was no stranger to this situation as he had represented Ray Lewis prior to the 2009 season. Lewis was shopped around the league and drew interest from the Dallas Cowboys before ultimately being re-signed by the Ravens. Considering the changes the Ravens have made within the first two days of free agency, it wouldn’t be surprising if Dunn helps draw Reed an offer he can’t refuse from another team.
Reed’s value on the football field may have diminished but his value inside the Ravens locker room has never been higher. Of the players currently under contract, none have the leadership and mentoring capabilities that Reed posseses. The future clear-cut first-ballot Hall of Fame safety has always been overshadowed by Lewis during his 11-year tenure in Baltimore, and could finally have the chance to call the Ravens defense his own…but only if he stays.
As the Ravens have shown before, in order to retain Reed, they’ll have to agree with his price. The Ravens’ history with Reed – including his brief no-show during mandatory mini-camp last year – hasn’t always been perfect, and his price tag is something that may ultimately keep Reed from leading a team on which he’s spent so many years as second fiddle.