It looked strange watching one of the greatest Ravens of all time with another organization, but the inevitable became official on Friday as Ed Reed officially signed a three-year deal with the Houston Texans.
Flanked by owner Bob McNair and general manager Rick Smith, Reed wore a Texans hat and a blue button-up shirt as he was introduced to the media at Reliant Stadium. He officially signed a three-year, $15 million contract that includes $5 million guaranteed before the Friday morning press conference.
“This is awesome,” said Reed, who cited being closer to his native Louisiana as a major selling point for joining the Texans. “From the first day of free agency, Rick called me and I think we both knew just from the conversation — how things were going and how this could work — it just was a matter of time of getting it done.”
Reed said he spoke to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome, and coach John Harbaugh prior to the press conference. The 34-year-old took the high road in what was perceived by many as a halfhearted effort to keep the 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year in Baltimore.
The nine-time Pro Bowl safety said the Ravens needed to make decisions and cited changes the roster has already undergone and implied his departure was part of that process.
“That’s 11 years that’s just storybook,” Reed said. “I’m proud to say that the last game was the Super Bowl [with] Baltimore. That will never be taken back. I’ll always be in that community and always be forever grateful to my fans, to that city, to that neighborhood, my neighbors, so many people.”
The 2002 first-round pick became the sixth key defensive player to exit the Ravens’ Super Bowl defense, joining linebackers Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, and Paul Kruger and fellow defensive backs Cary Williams and Bernard Pollard.
Reed complimented the Texans for “laying out the red carpet” for his free-agent visit last week and stated the first objective was bringing a championship to his new city. Houston’s reputation for already having a stout defense also helped in his decision-making process.
Experiencing free agency for the first time in his career, Reed acknowledged there were some business details to work out in explaining why he left Houston without a contract last week.
“I still love football; I know I can play football,” Reed said. “It just was a matter of being somewhere that fits — for me and the team. I think that the team knew what they wanted and understood that my fit into their organization was perfect timing. I prayed on it very hard and left it in [God’s] hands, and He showed me well before it even happened that this was the home that I would be in next. It was just awesome to go from a great franchise to another great franchise and knowing that we had some classic battles when I was in Baltimore.”
The Texans are scheduled to visit Baltimore in the regular season in what will surely be a bittersweet day for both Reed and a fan base that adored him for the last 11 years. The date of that game will become official by late April, but it figures to be a game that earns consideration for national television.
Watching Reed hold a Texans jersey was strange enough, but imagining him running through the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium in another uniform is another story entirely. But it’s a reality that won’t change Reed’s adoration for the city that adopted him as one of its own in 2002.
“Football is what we do,” Reed said. “It’s our job and it’s a business, but the relationships that I have with people in Baltimore will never change.”