When the front office had their annual “State of the Ravens” press conference at the conclusion of the 2013 season, Ozzie Newsome sent a clear message to Terrell Suggs.
“Terrell is a really good football player,” Newsome said. “He not only shows up in the pass game, but he shows up in the run game. That being said, we let a good football player go last year, so we’re not afraid. I’m not a virgin when it comes to letting guys walk out the door.”
As always with Ozzie, right player, right price. The right price for Baltimore wasn’t $12.5 million in 2014, and for good reason. Suggs disappeared in the second half of the season, and again his weight and conditioning came into question.
However, Ravens fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when Ozzie & Co. reached a four-year extension with Suggs in February. Suggs wanted to follow in the footsteps of Ray Lewis and finish his career in Baltimore. The fans, coaching staff and front office wanted him here and it’s been regarded as a win-win for all parties involved.
Now that everyone is happy, the biggest question is this: Which Terrell Suggs will show up in 2014?
Will it be the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year, the Suggs that had 14 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two interceptions? Or will it be the 2009 Suggs who had 4.5 sacks after showing up to training camp overweight and complacent?
There are two extremes as possibilities, with plenty of room in between.
Suggs and the team agreed on a six-year $62.5 million dollar deal before the start of the 2009 season. His bonus and guaranteed money made him the highest paid linebacker in the NFL. He followed that with the least productive season of his career with 4.5 sacks and was criticized for being lazy and overweight. This would be one extreme.
In the two years following he was out to prove his critics wrong, and he did. He had a strong year in 2010 with 11 sacks, and was a disruptive force in 2011 and was crowned the Defensive Player of the Year. This would, obviously, be the other extreme.
As for the potential area between those two extremes, we can look at the past two seasons.
2012 and 2013 are a bit of a mystery. In 2012 Suggs admirably returned to the field in Week 7 after suffering an Achilles injury that would’ve ended most players’ seasons. In 2013 he looked like he’d returned to his DPOY form in the first eight weeks, before becoming a non-factor the second half of the season, when again his conditioning and weight left something to be desired.
So which Suggs shows up in 2014 is anyone’s guess, but #55 critical to the Ravens success this year.
Will Terrell Suggs be motivated by the Ravens’ down 2013 year and their failure to make it to the playoffs for the first time in six years? Is his legacy as important to him as Ray Lewis’ was to him?
Or will his new contract and financial security result in complacency and a lack of motivation?
Considering how important his leadership and play are, the answer to these questions will have a huge impact on the ultimate path of the Ravens’ 2014 season.