A little lost among the contract negotiations currently on-going between the Baltimore Ravens and two of their star offensive players, Ray Rice and Joe Flacco, one of the Ravens’ long-time defensive stars is unhappy with his current contract status: Ed Reed.
Not to say that Reed has gone ignored in his recent display of discontentment with his contract status, but it’s certainly an issue that largely seems to have been placed by the wayside by the fans and media in favor of the current negotiations taking place between the Ravens and Flacco and Rice. It seems as though the Future Hall of Fame safety, Reed, may have noticed this too.
Reed signed a six-year, $44.5 million contract extension in 2006 and is due a base salary of $7.2 million for the upcoming season, the last year on his current deal and will become a free agent after this season unless another extension is reached at some point. Reed admits that he tried to strike a new contract with the Ravens last season but says that he "took a back seat" and put contract talks on hold when the negotiations weren’t going as smooth as he’d hoped.
(After the "Jump", see what Reed has been saying and what this could mean for the Ravens moving forward.)
It’s hard to measure Reed’s worth on a football field. Stats? Check. Leadership? Check. Veteran savvy and football smarts? Double check. The simple fact of the matter is that it’s hard to measure his worth, well, because he does everything so exceptionally well that he’s practically priceless. As perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime talent, Reed has roamed the Ravens’ defensive backfield for years and has been an absolute nightmare for quarterbacks all around the league. Even with his recent injury concerns and noticeably conservative approach, Reed continues to perform as one of the NFL’s best safeties, no, best defensive players, year in and year out, even at 33 years old.
Seeing and hearing some of what Reed has been saying, as a Ravens fan, makes me quite sad actually. Reed expresses that he feels "disrespected" and seems to indicate that he doesn’t feel like he’s a priority. If he only knew how much his presence has meant to the whole city of Baltimore since being drafted in 2002…
Here’s some of what Reed has been saying over the past few weeks:
On how he feels and his previous attempt at a new contract:
"I got some unfinished business. I got a lot on my mind I’ve been thinking about. The truth of the matter is, it’s about respect. It’s about getting respect and it’s a business. My plan when I went to negotiate was always, it’s always to help the team. I was not trying to break the bank. Do I deserve a good substantial amount? I mean you look at Peyton (Manning, Broncos quarterback). Peyton got five (years) for $96 (million)? I know I’m not a quarterback, but at the end of the day…They pay certain positions certain ways. I’m different, man."
Reed’s right. In a league driven by quarterbacks and high-flying passing attacks, the signal callers are getting the biggest piece of the pie. Of course it’s hard to argue that Reed deserves the kind money that’s anywhere near close to what arguably the best quarterback in history just received, but if quarterbacks are getting the most dough for being, well, quarterbacks, then what does that make Reed?
Reed is the anti-quarterback. He’s perfected the art of making passers look terrible and generally made the lives of quarterbacks and coaches alike around the NFL absolute hell when faced with the task of squaring off against him. In a league dominated mostly by quarterback play with a newfound emphasis on airing it out, a player of Reed’s caliber, while maybe not quite as valuable as the ones actually throwing the ball, has a pretty damn good argument as to why their just as important. Reed has the ability to take away large portions of the field and is one of the best ever at baiting quarterbacks into making major, major mistakes that can swing the game in the Ravens' favor.
Reed is openly introspective about his current status with the Ravens and how he feels he should be valued:
"Honestly, I got to take a look at myself from the outside in. For what I offer on the football field, for what I give on the football field and for what they know they’re going to get, it’s much more than these young guys out here today and what they’re getting. And I’m talking about at any defensive back position right now. I’ve been dealing with some stuff personally with some certain comments from people who I work with, whether they know it or not, they made them. But they made them and they don’t… whether you think I’m a business-minded man or don’t listen to you, I do. It’s not bad, but it’s something that you take to heart because at the end of the day, I know I’m giving everything and they know I’m giving everything on that football field."
Even at 33 years old with several injuries sustained throughout the seasons, Reed recently said that he wants to play possibly for as much a 4-5 more years. While that would be hugely impressive, quite possibly those last few years in pads for Reed could be in another team’s uniform if a deal isn’t reached before the end of the upcoming season. With the Ravens focused on signing Ray Rice and Joe Flacco, the Ravens quite simply may not have enough room to take on another large contract with their backs up against the salary-cap wall already.
Ed Reed isn’t replaceable. Anyone that thinks so is fooling themselves. As one of the best safeties for the past decade, maybe ever, all I can do is hope that the front office can find a way to make sure that Reed retires as a Raven.