Reed leaves Houston without contract in hand

March 15, 2013 | Luke Jones

Reed leaves Houston without contract in hand

After looking like signing a deal with the Texans was imminent after a two-day visit, Ravens free-agent safety Ed Reed did what he’s done on a number of occasions the last few offseasons by throwing everyone a curveball.

Instead of completing a deal with Houston as many expected, Reed left the city without an agreement in place. A deal isn’t expected on Friday, but the Texans remain optimistic in signing the veteran defensive back, according to multiple outlets.

Negotiations will continue through the weekend, but the 34-year-old left Houston without a contract in hand after the Texans wined and dined Reed on Thursday. According to the NFL Network, Reed spent roughly 4 1/2 hours at the team’s offices at Reliant Stadium on Friday before leaving the building without an agreement.

Meetings were described as positive and this doesn’t mean the safety won’t still sign with the Texans, but a full-court press was made by the organization to entice Reed to sign a contract before he’d return to his home city of Atlanta. After his six-year, $44.4 million contract officially expired on Tuesday, Reed began his free-agent tour on Thursday by meeting with Texans officials and even defensive coordinator Wade Phillips before spending the night in Houston.

Meanwhile, USA Today reported Friday afternoon that the Ravens and general manager Ozzie Newsome remained in contact with Reed throughout his visit with the Texans.

The Texans rolled out the red carpet for the nine-time Pro Bowl safety as the organization announced general manager Rick Smith was on his way to pick up Reed in owner Bob McNair’s private jet. Reports suggest the Texans have been hot after Reed’s services since the start of free agency on Tuesday afternoon.

“Both of us are contenders and want to get a championship, but we still have some things to work out,” Reed said to reporters upon landing in Houston. “Conversations have been great, amazing. We’re on the same page as far as what we need to get done.”

Despite dealing with a chronic nerve impingement as well as a torn labrum in his shoulder, Reed was one of only two players to make all 16 starts for the Baltimore defense and collected four interceptions and 58 tackles in the 2012 regular season. The ball-hawking safety also intercepted San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the Ravens’ 34-31 win in Super Bowl XLVII.

Reed hired David Dunn to be his agent recently and has remained hopeful he would remain with the Ravens.

The 34-year-old acknowledged Houston’s close proximity with family living in his home state of Louisiana was a major selling point for his interest in joining the Texans. Reed spoke of the Ravens and Baltimore on Thursday much like a man who was moving on.

“It’s been a great ride,” Reed said in Houston. “The fan support has been truly amazing, a lot of love and a lot of blood, sweat and tears. It’s definitely tough, but after 11 years, you pretty much understand things about the business.”

Visiting Houston is an obvious sign that Reed could be the next Baltimore defensive player to exit this offseason, but the 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year also needs to establish a market for himself and determine whether the grass is greener on the other side in joining a new team for what will be his 12th professional season.

The situation has been compared to Ray Lewis’ flirtation with free agency following the 2008 season, but in this case, the Ravens have sent a clear message they’re essentially starting over on defense after the exits of Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams, and Paul Kruger. The organization will depend on defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, linebacker Terrell Suggs, and cornerback Lardarius Webb — three of the highest-paid players on the team — to be the pillars of a defensive unit clearly in transition.

It remains to be seen whether Reed will be included in those plans — regardless of the cost.

But, for now, Reed remains without a home after looking like his trip to Houston would result in his official departure from the Ravens.

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