Ravens safety Ed Reed said at his charity golf tournament Wednesday he will play this season as he delivered the latest comments to leave you wondering what he’ll say next.
While that news comes as no surprise with Reed telling Comcast Sportsnet he “always planned on playing” this fall, the real question remains whether the All-Pro safety will report to training camp on time with other veterans next Wednesday — and what his frame of mind will be when he does decide to show up.
Entering the final year of a six-year contract that will pay him $7.2 million in 2012, Reed has hinted strongly about the possibility of holding out and believes he’s outplayed the contract he signed in 2006. General manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens have been silent on Reed’s contract status as the veteran skipped a mandatory minicamp last month without notifying head coach John Harbaugh of his intentions.
“I’m sure the Ravens are confident I’ll be there for camp, because they know how much I love the game, too,” Reed told Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com after declining to answer football-related questions from local media at his youth camp Monday. “But I’ll say this, they’re not going to get me for cheap, not a chance.”
Reed has talked about his desire to be respected, implying there are other reasons for his disenchantment in addition to his current level of compensation. The clouded messages and comments on his Twitter account have made the mercurial veteran a target for criticism from media and fans alike as he prepares for his 11th season in Baltimore.
He told local media Monday he feels misunderstood.
“They want to say it’s about money, but it’s about more than that,” Reed said to La Canfora. “I speak up, because there are a lot of guys in this league who can’t. I fight for the little guy. This isn’t just about me. The things I talk about don’t just apply to me.”
Reed’s handling of business is a stark contrast to running back Ray Rice, who was awarded a five-year, $40 million contract with $24 million guaranteed on Monday. While Rice is in the prime of his career and plays a position in which one big payday is often the norm, Reed is in the final stages of a future Hall of Fame career and has dealt with an array of injuries over the last four seasons while continuing to play at a high level.
Both players elected to skip offseason workouts and a mandatory minicamp, but Rice had no obligation to show up since he was not under contract and made few public comments about negotiations while reiterating his desire to remain in Baltimore.
There were no cryptic messages or comments about feeling disrespected, which is the framework Reed would be wise to follow as he enters the final year of his deal.
“Our big thing with Ray was [to] handle things first class the entire way,” agent Todd France told AM 1570 WNST Monday. “That’s why you never heard him lash out, like you did every single other running back out there [in the past] from Frank Gore to Chris Johnson to Matt Forte to Adrian Peterson. Every one of these guys was always out in the media and Ray Rice never did that.”
Rice would not address questions about negotiations at several of his community events this offseason, simply saying he was optimistic the sides would come to an agreement. While the strategy carried out by Rice and France made contract talks difficult to track from a media standpoint, it cultivated a welcoming atmosphere between the two sides that ultimately resulted in a deal just minutes before Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline.
Newsome is famous for his tight-lipped approach regarding contracts, which makes his silence regarding Reed unsurprising. The Ravens simply don’t respond to public needling from anyone — even one of the best players in NFL history.
Like Reed, the 25-year-old Rice felt frustrated at times with the slow pace of his negotiations and believed he outplayed the four-year contract he was awarded as a second-round pick in 2008, but he took the high road by saying very little. Yes, a holdout likely would have taken place had he been forced to play under the $7.7 million franchise tag in 2012, but Rice’s decorum only helped in his cause that was ultimately rewarded on Monday.