With the recent signing of Ray Rice, the Ravens have two other players with contract issues that hopefully won’t harm the franchise throughout the season. Joe Flacco is in the final year of his rookie contract which he has certainly outplayed and Ed Reed is in the final year of his six-year contract extension that will pay him $7.2 million dollars. Who will the Ravens deal with first?
The NFL is a “What have you done for me lately?” type of league. You can have all of the accolades in the world, but if you haven’t produced in recent years, you won’t get paid. Ed Reed has produced, just not Ed Reed numbers. Last year, a mere three interceptions to his career total. Reed has ambitions to catch Paul Krause’s all-time interception record with 81, but Reed, at age 33, currently has 57. If he was the player he was back in 2008 when he totaled nine interceptions and three defensive touchdowns, I could say him catching Krause. He just isn’t anymore. Two neck injuries have clearly altered his play and his ability to be the game-changer he once was.
The perfect example I always cite in showing how Ed Reed has changed is Week 17 of last season in Cincinnati. First, Reed wasn’t reading and ball-hawking Andy Dalton as I was expecting. Rookie quarterbacks used to be afraid of debuting against the Ravens solely because of Ed Reed. While he didn’t have the best game of his brief career, he didn’t throw any interceptions. If it wasn’t for Terrell Suggs showing up with the forced fumble on Jermaine Gresham, Dalton may have driven down the field causing the Ravens to lose the divisional crowd once again.
Also in that game, Reed did something I’ve started to notice wit his playing style. He avoids big hits and almost all contact at times. Bernard Scott was scooting up the sideline as Reed appeared to have a perfect pursuit angle on him to make a big hit or t least the stop. He whiffed. He threw an arm out and Scott shook it off like it was yesterday’s trash. Part of the blame goes to coaches nowadays not teaching proper tackling form because almost every safety in the NFL today leads with their head and doesn’t understand the concept of a form tackle. The other part of the blame goes toward Reed because he appeared to come up lame in fear that he may hurt his neck again. Is this a sign of things to come?
Reed has been an on-and-off with the Ravens for about two years now. It’s hard to tell if he loves the game anymore. He’s been toying with retirement and doesn’t always put football at the forefront. I can respect a man that has the interest of his family and his own health first, but tell the organization that so they can move on accordingly. As of now, CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora reports that Ed Reed won’t hold out from the Ravens. However, a relative of Reed’s was the one that told Jason this, so how should Baltimore fans take this.
At this point, Ed seems more interested in his family and enjoying his time with them, more so than football. If he doesn’t want to play, he should retire. The team shouldn’t focus on an aging safety that appears to be losing more than a step, they should focus on their franchise quarterback that has finally provided somewhat of a passing threat on offense and stability at the quarterback position that this organization hasn’t had since Vinny Testaverde. Pay Joe, let Reed go.