The clock is ticking for the Ravens to strike a deal for C.J. Mosley.
There are mixed emotions about signing the linebacker to a long-term contract.
Mosley is a valuable player who has made the Pro Bowl four times over his five-year career. He is one of the leaders of the defense and still only 26 years old.
The naysayers say the Ravens should not invest too heavily in Mosley.
The team already has some promising young linebackers on the rise. While Mosley is a smart player who is always around the ball, he sometimes struggles in pass coverage and that has proven to be costly.
A long-term deal for Mosley could perhaps cost the team more than $10 million per year. As a result, the Ravens have not ruled out using the franchise tag on him.
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said the ultimate goal is to keep Mosley.
“I certainly hope that C.J. is back,” DeCosta said. “I believe in my heart that he will be. Talent wins in the NFL, and he’s a Pro Bowl linebacker, so we’re going to do everything we can to make sure C.J. is back on the team.”
Last season, Mosley led the team with 105 tackles. He also finished with a half-sack, defended five passes and had the interception against Cleveland that ended a three-year playoff drought.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh also prefers to have Mosley remain with the team, but he understands the business side of the game. Mosley and his agent would be smart to test the open market in early March to maximize their value.
“You’d rather have C.J. back. There’s always the give-and-take, of course,” Harbaugh said. “There are limitations with the money, but C.J. wants to be back and we want him back. So, I think that’s a really good formula for a player coming back. I’m just not even going to entertain the possibility right now that that wouldn’t happen, and just assume it’s going to happen.”
There is a bigger picture with signing Mosley.
The Ravens want to keep their most talented players, especially the ones that are homegrown.
“Good football players should be paid, and C.J.’s a good football player,” DeCosta said. “There’s no doubt about it. You can get caught up in these types of positions that guys should get paid — you should pay the left tackle, you should pay the corner but not pay the defensive tackle or not pay the inside linebacker, and that’s all well and good unless somebody rushes for 250 yards against you.”
In addition to Mosley, the Ravens also have to decide whether to sign linebacker Terrell Suggs, who has been a cornerstone of the franchise for almost two decades. Suggs showed that he still can make plays at age 37, finishing with seven sacks.
However, Father Time remains undefeated and the Ravens are faced with a tough decision with one of the most productive players in franchise history.
Suggs said after the season that he prefers to end his career in Baltimore. However, he plans to play in 2019 with or without the Ravens.
“I would love to be a Raven for life. I’m healthy, and I still feel like I have some juice in the tank,” he said. “I would love to be a Raven for life. We’ll have to see what happens. It’s a long time between here and March. So, we’re just going to enjoy it and hope we can work it out. If not, I’ll be lining up for somebody next year.”