Terrell Suggs reported to camp this summer in the best shape we’ve ever seen from the 6-time Pro Bowler, former Defensive Rookie of the Year (2003) and the former Defensive Player of the Year (2011). Early on his attention to nutritional detail and the extra hours in the weight room and with cardiovascular training paid big dividends on the field.
Through 8 games Suggs had 60 combined tackles and 9 sacks. In his DPOY campaign he had 70 combined tackles and 14 sacks during the entire season. And though he wasn’t forcing turnovers like he did in 2011 (7 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions) had he continued at his 2013 first half pace , another DPOY award was definitely a possibility.
Unfortunately for Suggs and the Ravens the sizzle ended by mid-season, the dividends stop rolling in, replaced instead by a gathering roll in Suggs’ mid-section.
His second half production fell markedly as the pounds picked up. Suggs looked slow and far too many times he disappeared in games. Even his dependability as an edge setter in the run defense weakened.
The leadership that Suggs was expected to provide vanished just like his presence on the field. Perhaps the swagger and confidence just weren’t there and the motivation to lead simply faded.
Here was a player, playing to save his contract (scheduled $7.8M salary in 2014) who suddenly lost his mojo and produced just 20 combined tackles and 1 sack (a gift from Tom Brady who fell down) over the course of the season’s second half.
Earlier this season there were reports that Suggs’ wife was showing up at team headquarters unannounced and given the volatility of that relationship it would be no surprise if an unsettled home life and crazy rumors played a part in Suggs’ precipitous decline. Such distractions could derail anyone’s focus at work.
More importantly for the Ravens, they’ll need to decide if the $7.8M cap savings (and real salary savings) they would gain by releasing Suggs can be better spent elsewhere. Clearly the team has a multitude of roster blemishes to address.
Important questions must be debated at The Castle.
Can a player who will be 32 early in the 2014 season and can’t commit to remaining fit play to the level of a $12.4M cap number?
Will the Ravens get the 2013 Suggs from the first half or the second in 2014?
Is he motivated enough to be that impact player again?
The Ravens proved last offseason that they are willing to make difficult cap decisions when they traded a player (Anquan Boldin) who they believed wasn’t worth his $6M salary DESPITE his huge contributions during a Super Bowl run.
If Boldin wasn’t worth the $6M how can they justify $7.8M for a sizzle-less Suggs?
The bet here is that Ozzie Newsome will ask Suggs to take a pay cut and should he refuse then another difficult decision will be made. The founder of Ball So Hard University will no longer wear a Ravens uniform.
That’s the business of the NFL.