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A Committed Ed Reed Is Worth The Headache

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11:  Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens walks to the sidelines during a timeout against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 11 2010 in Atlanta Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens walks to the sidelines during a timeout against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 11 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed has now verbally committed to playing in 2012.

"I always planned on playing this year," Reed said Wednesday during an interview with CSN Baltimore at his charity golf outing. "I never thought about not playing. I want to play four or five years after this."

Okay, well thanks for clearing that up Ed. Reed is not the best at communicating with the media. Or, at least, he's not the best at getting what he's trying to say across the right way. Often times after an interview with Reed Ravens fans are left puzzled. Thinking, "what exactly did he mean by that" but the same thing happens every year. Reed eventually comes back around like nothing ever happened.

"I was reflecting,” Reed said. "I retired this offseason. I honestly got myself away from football. That’s why I didn’t come to minicamp. I was away from football. I was spending time with my family.

"A player would be wrong not to assess himself, any player, after a 10-year career. That’s what I was doing.”

I can't decide if it is all Reed or mainly the media taking small parts of an interview and turning them into a headline, effectively stirring the pot. I'm sure it's a combination of the two most cases. Reed does want a new contract. He does want to play in the NFL for years to come. Will his body let him however? I think that may be where things get a little tricky and some of the things he says get misconstrued.,

"[There’s] been a lot of thought going into this year, from a business standpoint and from a life standpoint,” Reed said. "Life is so much more than football.

"I spent a lot of time this season thinking about life after football because it’s a tough business.”

There is no question that a healthy, focused Ed Reed is the best thing for the team.On the other hand, is a disgruntled, injured Reed worth all the trouble? I think we saw a little of both of those sides of Ed in 2011. There were games in which he disappeared. Maybe some of the time the quarterbacks were intentionally throwing away from him but still, we are used to seeing him flying all over the field no matter where the ball is thrown. Like he was in the playoffs. Still, even when they did go his way at some points in the season he got physically beat by receivers. It seemed almost as if they wanted it more than he did.

This can happen to any player though. Even the best get burned every game at some point. the difference is that Ed is so much more capable and I think that all of these injury concerns and contract talks and looking out for his family has messed with his head a bit. In the playoffs last season Ed was back. He was all over the place and laying it all out on the line. That is the player that we need to see out there. A guy that inspires others to be great. So players like Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb can feed off of it and become part of the presence of greatness. It's contagious. If you have a great player like Reed setting the bar so high it brings up the level of play of everyone around him.

If the Ravens want the best Reed they can get they are going to have to make him happy. It's not his fault. It's just how the game is. If you were an all time great player at the end of your career that had a serious neck issue, wouldn't you want the team that you have laid it all out for to make sure you know that you and your family are going to be taken care of? On the other hand, you see how the NFL is becoming. You see a blossoming team that has a lot of good young players they need to invest in for the future. You want them to know they can invest in you and you can be a part of that future. For, let's say 4-5 more years.. Sounds about right. But can you? Can He?

The problem is Reed doesn't know the answer to that question and neither do the Ravens. I think the Ravens aren't to sure what they have with him either. The guy could come out and be defensive player of the year in 2012. Or, he could end up with three picks, some up and down moments and a free agent at the end of the season. Either way it will be a tough road if nothing gets done by then.

If Reed kills it this year his price may be out of the Ravens salary range next off season but if he continues to arm tackle half the time and seems more pedestrian, he may not like the offer he gets from the team. That's how guys end up and going the way of Derrick Mason. There will be plenty of teams lined up to pay him big bucks for the chance of him settling in somewhere and being great again. I'm sure the Jets will be one of the first ones to knock on his door.

Let's keep that from happening. If we can get him locked up for a bit longer and settle his head a bit the Ravens will be better off on the field for it. I'm sure they can work out something where both sides are covered if things were to go wrong. If this gets dragged out it could get ugly. A disgruntled star, especially one who is one of the leaders of your team, can tear locker rooms apart. If one of the guys who is supposed to be believed in doesn't believe in the cause any more than who will?