The first public volley in the “Ray Lewis Battle” was fired by the Ravens this afternoon.
But, it didn’t involve #52.
The initial blow to Ray’s hopes of landing one more mega-millions lottery ticket from the Ravens comes in the form of an announcement that the club will place the franchise tag on Terrell Suggs for the 2009 season if he doesn’t sign a new contract by February 19 (Thursday).
The tag will cost the Ravens $10,170,000 for another season of Suggs’ services.
Look at it like this: That’s $10 million-plus that Ray WON’T be getting.
It’s not a huge shock that the Ravens are franchising Suggs again.
I remarked on today’s edition of The Comcast Morning Show that the secret-blackboard in Ozzie’s office has Suggs as the team’s #1 off-season priority, followed by Ray Lewis at #2.
It’s not such a secret anymore, is it?
The Ravens decided today that the player they can least afford to lose is NOT the franchise player, Ray Lewis, but the franchise-tag-designee, Terrell Suggs.
I can’t argue with them on this one, either.
Suggs is a beast. He’s 26. He has a lot of good football left in his shoes. “Sizzle” is in the June of his career calendar. Ray’s career calendar says, “Thanksgiving is next week, here are some tips on how to cook a great turkey.”
There is a chance, of course, that Newsome could construct and sign-off on a new contract with Suggs in the next 48 hours and avoid the $10,170,000 price tag that goes with the franchise designation.
Perhaps Suggs won’t cost the Ravens over $10 million in ’09. Maybe he’ll cost a million or two less.
There’s certainly a chance they can still sign Ray Lewis. I’m sure from the beginning the Ravens were hoping to have both #55 and #52 on the sidelines in purple for ’09 and beyond.
Today, they made it clear they’re going to get one of them.
Today, they also made it clear that Ray’s value to the team might not be as high as Ray thinks it is.
After all, they were NOT willing to let Suggs test the free agent market.
The first shot has been fired.
Stick around, there’s plenty more where that came from.