The Ravens recently released Mike & Mike (Flynn & Anderson) to carve out about $3 million in cap space. They also restructured the deals of Todd Heap and Jonathan Ogden to create more room. All of these moves were executed in part to enable the team to franchise Terrell Suggs while they try and work out a long term deal.
But Suggs appears to be making it difficult for the Ravens to do exactly that. Yesterday Suggs and his representatives filed a grievance against the team that will be reviewed in an arbitration hearing headed by an NFL special master. Suggs claims that he played more than 50 percent of his snaps at defensive end last year.
Whatâ€™s the big deal you ask?
Well the franchise tag for defensive ends ($8.879 million) is $814,000 more than that for linebackers ($8.065 million). Could this be Gary Wichardâ€™s (Suggsâ€™ agent) way of making the tag more difficult for the Ravens thus forcing them to the bargaining table with a few less chips?
Side bar: And by the way, how much will Wichard want for Suggs when a player considered to be a bust not too long ago (OLB Calvin Pace) just nailed the Jets for $22 million guaranteed?
You canâ€™t fault Suggsâ€™ handlers for doing what they are paid to do yet you have to wonder how this might affect the clubâ€™s view of T-Sizzle. The Ravens have traditionally taken very good care of their first round picks. Ogden, Heap, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed all re-signed with the team and each was extended a then record contract for their respective positions.
Moreover, it would seem to me that the Ravens have a strong argument in this case. Suggs was listed as a starting outside linebacker in each game. Now itâ€™s quite possible that the team anticipated a franchise tag for Suggs and they recognized that such a move might save them money.
Did Suggs argue with his linebacker designation when he went to Hawaii as a Pro Bowler twice (following the â€™04 and â€™06 seasons)? Do you think that he would have been chosen as a defensive end following his second season over the stalwarts John Abraham, Jason Taylor or Dwight Freeney? Do you think he may have been selected as a DE over any of the following (2 year sack total) in â€™06: Derrick Burgess (27); Aaron Schobel (26); Jason Taylor (25.5)?
Neither do I!
Suggs should be happy with the designation because being listed as a linebacker allowed him to be selected to the Pro Bowl team twice and those two awards are certainly worth more than the $814K he and his handlers are whining about. But I guess thatâ€™s just business.
I wonder if Lawrence Taylor considered himself a defensive endâ€¦
We are all aware of John Harbaughâ€™s well developed understanding of the value in solid special teams play. And given the way the Ravens AFC North rivals are augmenting their rosters in free agency, the team would be wise to get a jump start in an oftentimes overlooked and undervalued aspect of football. Therefore it should surprise no one given the Ravensâ€™ limited cap flexibility that they might look for returns on smaller investments such as Bears special teamsâ€™ standout Brendon Ayanbadejo.
Ayanbadejo visited the Ravens this week and word is he is narrowing his decision down to two teams. The Jets appear to be the other option for the 6-1, 228-pound free agent Pro Bowler. The 31-year-old Ayanbadejo is said to be seeking a deal that resembles that of the Giantsâ€™ David Tyree. Tyree best known for his helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII is another special teams standout who signed a five year, $7.5 million deal during the last offseason.
Another side bar: Pro Football Talk is reporting that the Ravens have agreed to terms with special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo. It is said to be a four-year, $4.9 million deal, with a $1.9 million signing bonus.
The Ravens as you know are the eighth club on the clock come Saturday April 26 in New York. Immediately ahead of them are the Patriots (in Round 1) and the Jets. Yesterday the New York Daily Newsâ€™ Rich Cimini provided his thoughts on the factors that might influence the Jets decision at No. 6. Hereâ€™s a snap shot of Ciminiâ€™s top 7 players and how the Jets might view each:
RB Darren McFadden: A definite possibility. They could be tipping their hand if they sign Dolphins RB Jesse Chatman (visited Wednesday). With Chatman, Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, theyâ€™d be well stocked in the backfield.
DE Chris Long: Too small to play end in the Jetsâ€™ 3-4 scheme. He probably could stand up and play outside linebacker, but they just signed that guy, Calvin Pace (formerly of the Cardinals).
QB Matt Ryan: This would mean rebuilding and, based on the mega contracts theyâ€™ve been doling out, the Jets do not see themselves as a rebuilding team.
OT Jake Long: Heâ€™d be hard to pass up at No. 6, but it would be a tough sell.
They couldnâ€™t play him at left tackle because that would be admitting Dâ€™Brickashaw Ferguson was a mistake. Theyâ€™d have to play him at right tackle, but they just signed Damien Woody.
DT Glenn Dorsey: Two reasons why they wonâ€™t pick him: Heâ€™s too small to play nose (see Dewayne Robertson) and they just traded for Kris Jenkins.
DT Sedrick Ellis: See Dorsey.
DE/LB Vernon Gholston: Too small to play end. Heâ€™d have to play linebacker, but this brings us back to the Chris Long/Pace issue. Then again, after the year OLB Bryan Thomas had, maybe they feel they need two new outside â€˜backers.
As you can see thereâ€™s no clear cut choice for the Jets but the feeling here is that the Jets most difficult choice would be between Jake Long and Matt Ryan should both be available. And if Long is the Jets’ pick and only Ryan remains, donâ€™t be surprised to see the Ravens call on a draft day trade partner to move to No. 7. You may recall that the Ravens twice traded with New England on Day 1 of the NFL Draft. The first trade brought Kyle Boller to Baltimore and the second afforded them Adam Terry.
Uh, after further review maybe they should stay put if history is an indicatorâ€¦
Photo by Sabina Moran