By: Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen
BK: The Baltimore Ravens are in off season mode. The Baltimore Orioles are still reporting to Sarasota for spring training. Despite these facts, the Baltimore area dominated the sports headlines this week; equal parts good, with equal parts bad. I want to start the banter with the Ravens already answering their biggest question of the off season, signing OLB Terrell Suggs to an extension that lowers his current salary cap number by $4 million, and will allow Suggs to finish his career where it all started.
Mr. Dickinson, what is your take on the parameters of the contract that T-Sizzle received, and did the Ravens make the correct decision by bringing him back?
BD: Personally, many people already know that I am not a fan of Suggs, because of his off-field transgressions. But I also believe that he has been overrated by the general public for several years now, even when he won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2012.
Suggs has a tendency of disappearing for not just plays, but games at a time. None was more evident than the final nine games of the season last year, recording one sack in that span. For a player being paid hefty money to attack the QB, he is simply not consistent enough to garner such lofty contracts.
His sack totals are elevated, as he has a tendency to have big games against inferior offensive tackles (he recorded 3 of his 10 sacks against the Dolphins last year, and that was before they traded for Bryant McKinnie). The same went for his peak season of 2012, where out of his 14.5 sacks, 9 came in three games.
Add in his off-field issues, with domestic violence charges and the government collecting retrieving his arsenal of assault weapons from his home and I do not think he has earned an extension. More importantly at 31, his best years are already behind him and for a team trying to retool, that little over $3 Million could be used elsewhere.
The Seahawks laid the blueprint on how to build the franchise in the 2010’s, by adding a bevy of highly skilled role players, surrounded by key stars at key positions. They had one of the greatest defenses ever, without spending big money on a single pass-rusher. Instead adding depth throughout their roster, they were able to dominate the entire league.
Ozzie has a problem awarding players for past performances, which has led to the Ravens living in cap hell for years now. That will only continue if he does not learn that it is better to cut ties with a player one year too early, rather than one year too late.
So Barry, speaking of cutting ties, what is the general reaction to the Ray Rice Saga and how should the Ravens (and the NFL) respond? Should (and will) he be on the roster come September?
BK: Shock. Sadness. Disappointment. Those three words can sum up how the Ravens Nation feels following the arrest of their once beloved running back. Prior to this season, Ray Rice had been a pillar of stability, both on and off the field. Rice’s production, coupled with his strong anti-bullying campaign, made him impossible to dislike. After a disappointing 2013 season in which Rice averaged just 3.1 yards per carry and 4 touchdowns, many wonder if Rice’s days of being one of the top running backs in the league are over.
I cannot help but wonder if there is a connection between Rice’s disgruntled work life and his personal life. There is no excuse for ever striking a woman. And when that woman is already the mother of your child and set to be your wife, more questions have to be asked. The Baltimore Ravens have had their fair share of legal issues to deal with over the years (namely Ray and Jamal Lewis in separate incidents), but I do not think that Rice can repair his image in Baltimore.
From a business perspective, it makes little sense for the Ravens to cut Rice, who would still be owed $14 million in guaranteed money from the contract he signed in 2012. However, the Ravens do not have a choice at this moment. The video (seen here) of Rice dragging his unconscious fiance out of the casino elevator is not the entire story, but it says enough.
With Gary Kubiak as the new offensive coordinator, the Ravens can draft a running back and tell the media that they were the best player available who happened to fit Kubiak’s scheme. I do know a guy who would fit in really well here…