OWINGS MILLS — Steve Bisciotti extinguished any lingering speculation regarding whether the Baltimore Ravens will dock or reduce All-Pro outside linebacker Terrell Suggs’ $4.9 million salary after he suffered a non-football injury.
The Ravens’ majority owner was emphatic in stating the Ravens have no intentions of not paying Suggs his entire salary after the NFL Defensive Player of the Year sustained a torn Achilles tendon in late April. Suggs has repeatedly denied reports that got hurt playing basketball, insisting that he was injured during a conditioning drill.
“I would be more upset if he hurt himself sleeping on his couch all offseason, you know,” Bisciotti said. “To me, if our players are engaged in activities that get them in shape then I’m proud of them for doing it. I don’t know if I would be working out in April the way these guys do what they do. I’m proud of Terrell.
“He got criticized for being out of shape a couple of years ago and he said it would never happen again. He made the Pro Bowl last year and then he made Defensive Player of the Year this year. I want these guys striving. It gets pretty boring in the weight room. He wasn’t kite boarding. I’d like to see that one day. If he’s playing basketball, that’s great.”
Regardless of how Suggs got hurt, the Ravens have the right under the NFL collective bargaining agreement to not pay him or reduce his salary because it was a non-football injury. However, that’s not what they plan to do.
And the Ravens have never suggested that they were going to take that measure.
Part of the reason the Ravens aren’t pursuing that course of action is that they believe it would be wildly unpopular and send the wrong message in the locker room.
“I think it would send a really bad one, I’d be scared to come to work,” Bisciotti said. “I think it would be a terrible message.”
Suggs underwent surgery to repair the damage and is scheduled to be in Baltimore on Monday for a doctor’s appointment.
Asked Wednesday whether Suggs got hurt playing basketball, Ravens coach John Harbaugh replied: “That’s not a conversation we’re even having.”
There have been several eyewitness accounts that Suggs got hurt playing basketball in Arizona, but nothing definitive.
“It’s not relevant to anything or has anything to do with what we’re trying to accomplish,” Harbaugh said in reference to the cause of Suggs’ injury. “If it were I guess we’d think about it. The relevant conversation with Terrell Suggs is going to be rehab.”
The NFL’s third-ranked defense is expected to be without Suggs for at least the majority of the season.
Suggs has targeted November for his potential return.
The Ravens are expected to start Paul Kruger at Suggs’ rush outside linebacker position with rookie second-round pick Courtney Upshaw lining up at Jarret Johnson’s vacated strongside linebacker spot.
Replacing Suggs’ production of 14 sacks and seven forced fumbles will prove to be a difficult proposition, but Bisciotti is confident in returning young defensive players like All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and $50 million cornerback Lardarius Webb.
“Maybe it’s Haloti’s time this year,” Harbaugh said. “Terrell is the third player that [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] and [assistant general manager] Eric [DeCosta] have drafted that have won Defensive Player of the Year, and we think we’ve got one in Haloti on the rise, and we may have another one in Jimmy Smith or Lardarius Webb.”
NOTES: During a press conference to announce a partnership with Under Armour where the Baltimore-based sports apparel giant signed a 10-year agreement to have naming rights to the Ravens’ training facility now called the Under Armour Performance Center, Bisciotti joked that perhaps Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank could help break the deadlock in contract talks with running back Ray Rice and quarterback Joe Flacco.
“Kevin is going to pay for Rice,” Bisciotti said. “I’m going to pay for Flacco. He doesn’t know that yet.”
Plank’s reply: “Is that in the fine print?” …
After years of lobbying from Bisciotti, the Ravens were awarded their first home Monday night game since a December 2007 loss to the New England Patriots.
The Ravens open the season at home on Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals followed by a Sunday night home game against the Patriots in the third game of the season and a Thursday night home game against the Cleveland Browns one week later.
Ideally, the prime-time games would be spread out.
“They finally listened to me,” Bisciotti said. “I’m thrilled. I’m a little disappointed that we got three home games nationally televised and they’re in Week 1, 3 and 4, but that’s just a quirk of the schedule. We’ve got three home prime-time games, and with the flex schedule of NBC, we can earn more. So, we’re going to get ours out of the way.
“Obviously, it’s the hottest time of the year, so it might be good for our fans to not be in 90-degree heat. We’ll just take advantage of it. They called and apologized that they were all jammed in the beginning of the year. We’ll make the most of it, and hopefully, we’ll try and earn one or two more Sunday night games from NBC because of our success. I’m very happy about it, and I think it’s going to be a fantastic weekend for us to open up on Monday night.” …
Bisciotti commented on the Ravens’ rookie draft class, which is headlined by Upshaw, second-round offensive guard Kelechi Osemele and third-round running back Bernard Pierce.
“My coaches are happy with the guys,” Bisciotti said. “This time of year, it’s basically install, and I heard [defensive coordinator] Dean Pees talk the other day and he said, ‘It’s pretty hard to see their true athleticism when they’re thinking, and our goal is to get them where they’re not thinking, because then you can’t really see what they’re capable of doing until it comes second-nature.’ I think from a character standpoint, I think we did really well. I think we got the kind of guys that will fit right in with our Ravens.”