Baltimore Ravens fans, like myself, have been spoiled to some degree over the years. But who cares? Let Ozzie Newsome and company work their magic.
But, Ravens fans shouldn’t take the success for granted. And right now, it starts with understanding that Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs are still valuable to the team.
I have heard many fans in Ravens nation say that Ngata and Suggs should be gone after this season due to their high salary cap numbers. Though, not all Raven fans feel this way; the debate seems to be a little split at the moment.
In 2014, Ngata’s cap number is 16 million according to our own Brian McFarland. That’s a lot, and that leaves a situation where the 2014 offseason becomes more interesting. Suggs’ cap number in 2014 is 12.4 million. A bit lower than Ngata’s, but still quite inflated. There could be tough decisions next year for the Ravens.
Suggs and Ngata are not easy to replace. If there are any players left on this team that are worth keeping despite their cap numbers, these two would be among them. We all saw them both fighting through various injuries last year. The Ravens won the Super Bowl with both playing well below 100%.
Such a move to let go of Ngata and/or Suggs would be a bit over the top for me. Yes, let’s move on from an outside linebacker who is two years removed from being Defensive Player of the Year, and a defensive tackle who is a walking double team. I don’t think so.
For their display on the field alone last season, I would be willing to roll with their current cap numbers in 2014 with the expectations that they will be healthy.
So despite the Ravens winning the Super Bowl, Suggs and Ngata may have to prove more. If they are able to play at a high level, then I think the Ravens could be willing to keep them at their current cap numbers. But if they both struggle to stay healthy or are a step below their normal capabilities in 2013, then I think the Ravens have tough decisions to make.
Money talks sometimes. Either way, I will respect the Ravens’ decision, but if things don’t go well on the field in 2014 without Ngata and/or Suggs, I wouldn’t be surprised.
In general we see what the Ravens are doing, and I applaud it. The Ravens are going to the youth movement for the most part, and that is fine with me.
Brandon Williams can still learn a lot in the trenches with Ngata. Williams won’t replace Ngata at this point as his primary role will be to fill the nose tackle spot that former 2010 second round draft pick Terrence Cody has failed to fill. Could Williams ultimately man the trenches the way Ngata has? Maybe, but it is way too soon to say.
Outside linebackers John Simon and Courtney Upshaw can learn from Suggs, and Elvis Dumervil. But at the same time, I highly doubt they will be able to duplicate the pass rush abilities Suggs and Dumervil have (especially Upshaw). The Ravens will most likely have to address the depth at pass rush next year regardless of whether Suggs is on the roster.
Now this isn’t to say that the Ravens should keep Ngata and Suggs at all costs. At the end of the day, the Ravens have to do what is financially responsible for the team. So if both players end up being cut, then it is what’s best for the team.
The Ravens saw their legends in Ray Lewis and Ed Reed end their tenures with the franchise this offseason, which lends to the Ngata and Suggs speculation among fans. Could 55 and 92 be next?
With all of that being said, it’s time to come back to reality, and realize that there is a good chance that draft picks in the coming years won’t be anywhere near the players that Ngata and Suggs have proven to be.
But that is what happens when a team is in transition. Whatever choice the Ravens make, I think they will be alright.
You can’t keep everyone, but there’s something to be said about letting go of important players in such a hurry. The goal is to win football games. Teams win football games with leaders. Potentially losing Lewis, Reed, Suggs, and Ngata in a two-year span would be a lot to overcome.
So don’t assume anyone can just fill what Ngata and Suggs have to offer, even in the later stages of their careers. These are potential future hall of fame players we are talking about here. Enjoy them while you can.