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Purple Reign 2: Flacco & Bisciotti met, talked Super Bowls & millions last August

Posted on 30 May 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

This is an excerpt from a new, 480-page book on the Baltimore Ravens championship run called Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story. If you enjoyed every aspect of their Super Bowl win in New Orleans, you’ll love this book that chronicles how the team overcame adversity and personal tragedies, and used theology sprinkled with faith, family and love on the way to a Baltimore parade fueled by inspiration, dedication, perspiration and yes, a little bit of luck.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15 of the definitive book on the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans, Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

If you enjoy it, please consider buying the books for the holidays as gifts for anyone who loves the Baltimore Ravens.

You can purchase both Purple Reign books by clicking here:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 9 here where Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti talk about the risk of $100 million:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 15 on the firing of Cam Cameron and its impact on Joe Flacco

This is from Chapter 9, “Injury after insult after implosion – Psychology 2012.” If you enjoy this small snippet you can purchase the book and read another excerpt here. You can also join the Facebook fan page here. The book will be released on May 31st and will be delivered before Father’s Day if purchase before June 5th.

 

AS THE TEAM WAS ASSEMBLED in the preseason, questions lingered, but Harbaugh felt great that the team had survived an offseason without arrests, without incidents, without any member of a veteran team blaming Evans or Cundiff for the New England loss. He inherited a fractured team in 2008, and by the summer of 2012 he was feeling good about the unity of the players and their maturity.

But the obvious questions for fans, media, and The Castle staff were all the same:

Is this the last chance for Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Matt Birk?

Will the offensive line hold up?

Can the Ravens win the big one?

Can Joe Flacco win the big one?

As Bisciotti knew on draft day in 2008, and as Newsome, Harbaugh, and everyone else in the organization had experienced the hard way — it always comes back to the quarterback. Was Joe Flacco going to be the franchise quarterback who would win a Super Bowl for the Baltimore Ravens?

Flacco, who played perhaps the best game of his career and threw what would’ve been the pass that took the Ravens to the Super Bowl on his last drive in January, somehow went into the 2012 season as the man on the hot seat who had not only turned down a $90 million offer for more than six months, but who had gone on WNST.net & AM 1570 in April and said he thought he was the best quarterback in the NFL. As much as Tim Tebow was the darling of ESPN with a seemingly non-stop Jets theme on SportsCenter, Flacco became something of a punch line for a quarterback who could get a team to the playoffs, but somehow was perceived as “not Super Bowl caliber.”

Short of catching his own pass in Foxborough, he literally had done everything he could do to get his team into the Super Bowl and yet the abuse was seemingly endless.

But the game is won on the X’s and O’s and the execution, and Flacco knew this. Cameron and Flacco had talked about more passing, more shotgun formations, and more pressure on defenses, but over the summer of 2012 it became clear the Ravens would become more of a personalized offense for No. 5. If the Ravens were offering Flacco $90 million dollars, they’d need to trust him to earn that money. He loved the tempo of the no-huddle offense and loved that it allowed him to dictate to the defense both personnel and pace.

“What quarterback wouldn’t want to run the no-huddle or fast-paced offense?” Flacco said. “Let’s be honest, it’s more fun to play quarterback when you do that. We like the pace we’re running on offense right now, but it’s a work in progress. We’ve done OK, and we’ve played pretty quick. But, we know we can play better, and we will play faster as we get into it more.”

Harbaugh endorsed this ideological move from being a team that always allowed its defense to cut loose while always seeming to fear the worst from the offense — trying to utilize the clock, run the ball, and be more conservative. “We’ve talked about the no-huddle [offense] since Joe’s [Flacco] rookie season,” Harbaugh said. “He ran it at Delaware and has had success in it when we’ve run it the last few years. He is a key to running it, and he loves it. And, we have the parts for it right now, including the offensive line. We can run the offense very fast, a little fast, slower, and we can huddle. We’re in a good spot right now with how we can run our offense.”

While some of the idiot sports talking heads and media types were constantly flogging Flacco, the people who watch coaches’ film were always impressed with him, using the evidence and residue of four straight playoff appearances and his improving game to shout down the detractors.

“We’ve spent time with Joe [Flacco], and I perceive a change in him,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who saw Flacco play at Audubon High in his hometown of Philadelphia. “He’s won since Day One with the Ravens, but he’s more confident now. They’re confident in him, too, and the improved offense reflects all of that. He can make every throw. He can bring his team from behind. The question becomes, ‘Can they win a Super Bowl with Joe?’ And the answer is an emphatic, ‘Yes!’”

Mike Lombardi, who was doing NFL analysis in the summer of 2012 before becoming the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, said “That anyone spent the offseason criticizing [Joe] Flacco strikes me as ludicrous. Flacco didn’t drop the ball in the end zone against the Patriots. In fact, it was Flacco who drove the Ravens to give them two chances to win that game. It was others who didn’t make plays. While he doesn’t play in an offense that shows off his skills statistically, Flacco is a winning QB, and his record [45-21] shows it.”

ESPN’s Ron Jaworski spoke out on Flacco’s arm strength and ability to attack opposing defenses. “Arm strength – that’s Flacco’s No. 1 attribute,” Jaws said. “I get so tired of hearing how arm strength is overrated. It’s far more important than people think. He has the strongest arm in the NFL. And he has an aggressive, confident throwing mentality. The element always overlooked by those who minimize arm strength is the willingness of quarterbacks like Flacco to pull the trigger. Few recognize that because there is no quantifiable means by which to evaluate throws that are not made by quarterbacks with lesser arm strength. It’s all about dimensions. Flacco gives you the ability to attack all areas of the field at any point in the game.”

Flacco took the responsibility as a personal challenge and something he embraced.

“It’s definitely my offense as a quarterback; it’s my job to get out there and lead these guys and direct them and run the traffic, and get it run the way that I want it to be run,” he said in training camp. “Cam may be running the plays, and I may be controlling certain things on the line depending on what the play is, but the fine details of being a good offense are all of the fine details. And it’s my job to get those correct and that we have everyone on the same page. As long as I’m out there in practice getting it to the games and on game day, as long as I’m doing that and expressing to the receivers, expressing to the running back, and to the offensive line how I feel, and what I see back there and as long as we can get on the same page as that together, then that’s when we’re doing something, and that’s when I’m doing my job.

“You talk about being paid that much money, they don’t do that so that they can go out there to do every job, they do that so they can delegate some jobs onto me. And I can go out there and get it done the way it should be. That’s a big part of being a quarterback. To be able to make sure that everything is running smoothly and everybody sees it the way I see it. And that once we get there on Sunday, we can just react and play. Because we’re all up to speed and we all have the same vision of everything. I think that’s what good quarterbacks are able to do, is to take that and then take a certain play and make it great, just because everyone has a good understanding of that.”

By the beginning of training camp it was very clear that the Ravens and Flacco were at an impasse in negotiating a new contract that would replace the final year of his five-year deal from 2008. Newsome called Bisciotti and said that after tireless conversation with Flacco’s agent Joe Linta, there was no way to get a long-term deal and that the Ravens would need to play out the season and consider signing or franchising their star quarterback in 2013.

Bisciotti authorized a final offer – a “bump and roll” contract that gave Flacco a $1 million per year bonus if he won a Super Bowl and $2 million per year for the six years of the deal if he had won two Super Bowls. It would’ve been a raise that stayed on the books for the life of the deal. The average salary number was $16.7 million per year on the Ravens’ base offer, which would’ve made Flacco the fourth-highest paid quarterback behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. Flacco was essentially turning down $90 million because he was rejecting the notion that he was the fourth best quarterback in the NFL.

Linta and Flacco once again turned it down the week before training camp opened.

Bisciotti was flustered, wanting to get the deal done and ran into Flacco in the cafeteria in Owings Mills during the first week of training camp and summoned the quarterback to his office upstairs.

“I had never, ever – not for one minute – even spoken to Joe about the contract,” Bisciotti said. “That was for Pat [Moriarty] and Ozzie [Newsome] to do, but I wanted to take one more swing at it and try to understand the situation.”

They spent 45 minutes with the door closed.

“There are two things here that I don’t understand,” Bisciotti said to Flacco. “I don’t understand why you’re walking away from this deal? As maligned as you are in the press and as little faith as so many pundits have in you, we’re offering you a $90 million deal and you can go wave that in their face and say, ‘F**k you guys! See, the Ravens DO believe in me!’ ”

Flacco was nonplussed. “I really don’t care about my critics,” he bluntly told the Ravens owner.

Bisciotti was exasperated. “I don’t understand it. Joe, don’t you think you’d play better with a clear head and having this contract behind you?” he continued. “You won’t have to answer questions from anybody, and you can just focus on playing and winning the Super Bowl.”

Flacco said it again. “Steve, I appreciate the offer, but I really don’t care about the media, critics, any of it. I’ve gotta trust my agent, and he doesn’t want any incentives in contracts. And I’ve gotta leave it to him.”

Bisciotti reasoned that until they won a Super Bowl together neither one would get that ultimate respect they desired. “I’m offering you a better deal than the one you’re asking me for if you’re planning on winning the Super Bowl,” he said.

Flacco wasn’t upset or emotional, as is his custom. He simply smiled and said he was going to play out the year. Bisciotti said, “Well, I tried,” as he shook Flacco’s hand. “Then go out and put a few rings on my desk and get what you think you deserve.”

“I figured if he’s fine with it then I should be fine with it,” Bisciotti said. “I wanted it behind both of us. I guess I didn’t really understand how different a guy he was. I told him, ‘You are a different cat, man!’ ”

Flacco remembers the conversation vividly. “Yeah, he couldn’t get over it,” Flacco said. “He said, ‘Do you know what you’re doing? This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard!’ I told him I knew what I was doing and my price wasn’t getting cheaper. I saw his point of view but I also thought that I was right. I’m a little bit of a hard head.”

Flacco believed the market always get set by the next elite quarterback that signs and the price always goes up if you perform. “It wasn’t a bad offer but I felt like I could do better if I waited,” he said. Like his adversary in this $100 million negotiation, he had gone to the Bisciotti school of downside management.

“My agent said to me, ‘Think about the worse possible situation and if you’re OK with that then hold your position,” Flacco said. The downside here would’ve been a catastrophic injury or a bad 2012 season on the field. “If I got hurt, I got hurt,” he said. “That’s the nature of the game. I was willing to look in the mirror and live with that.”

Flacco said he turned the tables on Bisciotti: “I told him, ‘You should give me four or five million more now because if I win the Super Bowl’ – and I did say ‘if’ – ‘then it’s gonna cost you $20 million.’ ”

Flacco figured he was still only making his base of $6.5 million in 2012 no matter what. The Ravens weren’t ripping up his deal. It was an extension. And there’s always a new “going rate” for top quarterbacks.

“I was actually glad that he called me up to talk about it because it was a cool conversation to have,” Flacco said. “Even though we weren’t agreeing it was a great conversation. It’s one of those talks that grows a relationship, I think.

“Hey, I tried to throw him a bone and save him some money.”

 

To purchase Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story, click here.

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Will the Ravens defense improve in 2013?

Posted on 01 April 2013 by jeffreygilley

Four weeks ago, everyone outside of Baltimore was skeptical of Ozzie Newsome. First, Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers. Shortly after, Paul Kruger signed with the Browns and Dannell Ellerbe left for Miami. Ellerbe was viewed as the top priority for the Ravens but the Dolphins were willing to pay more for his services.

But that was just the beginning. Other key players including Carry Williams Ed Reed also joined other teams. Bernard Pollard is also no longer part of the team. Pollard was released and has since signed with the Tennessee Titans.

All of these players were critical to the Ravens regular and postseason success. Despite that, I believe the defense will be better. But then again, it’s not difficult to improve when the Ravens ranked in the high teens and low 20’s in most defensive categories.

Despite these losses, can the Ravens defense improve in 2013? The short answer is yes. The reason? Versatility.

All of the free agents the Ravens have signed this offseason have the ability to play multiple positions. Chris Canty and Marcus Spears can play almost every position on the defensive line and Michael Huff can play any position in the secondary.

The additions of Canty and Spears give the Ravens a scary rotation along the defensive line. Pernell McPhee and Arthur Jones will also be vital parts of that rotation. Even Deangelo Tyson could get playing time.

With Canty, Spears, McPhee, Tyson, and Jones in a rotation at the 3-4 defensive end and defensive tackle spots, Haloti Ngata can play more nose tackle, which is his favorite position.

Add Elvis Dumervil to that equation and I would be shocked if the Ravens don’t come close to leading the NFL in sacks. Dumervil and Suggs will consistently command attention on the outside. In turn, opportunities will open up for Ngata, McPhee, and the rest of the Ravens defensive lineman on the inside.

The only question mark for the Ravens defense to me is the secondary. With Carry Williams departure to Philadelphia and Lardarius Webb’s return from injury, Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham might have to play larger roles this season.

Inside linebacker could be viewed as another area of need but the additions to the defensive line should help the middle of the defense. The Ravens could also look to the draft for a young inside linebacker. Candidates would include Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, LSU linebacker Kevin Minter, or Florida linebacker Jon Bostic in the later rounds.

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Bovada sets Reed INT number at 4.5 for 2013

Posted on 29 March 2013 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv,  Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

Who will sign Brian Urlacher next?

Baltimore Ravens                      9/4

New York Giants                       5/2

Cincinnati Bengals                     7/2

Denver Broncos                        4/1

Minnesota Vikings                     6/1

Atlanta Falcons                         6/1       

Oakland Raiders                        8/1

 

Ed Reed – Total Interceptions in the 2013 Regular Season       

Over / Under                             4½
(Editor’s note: WNST.net is not reporting any connection between the Ravens and Urlacher. These are simply odds passed along for entertainment purposes.)

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New safety Huff willingly taking torch in replacing Ravens legend

Posted on 28 March 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Replacing a legend isn’t easy, but new Ravens safety Michael Huff is looking to carve out his own niche in the tradition of great Baltimore defense.

The 30-year-old met with the local media for the first time Thursday after passing his physical and officially signing a three-year, $6 million contract and didn’t shy away from recognizing the crater left behind by future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, who signed a three-year, $15 million deal to join the Houston Texans last week. In fact, Huff has kept in contact with Reed via text messages in a symbolic passing of the torch.

Huff knows he can’t truly replace the nine-time Pro Bowl safety, but the 2005 Jim Thorpe Award winner and seventh overall pick of the 2006 draft is eager to maintain the level of strong play found in the Ravens secondary for over a decade. And it may provide the opportunity for Huff to break free from the black cloud of the Raiders organization after never experience a winning season in seven campaigns in the AFC West.

“It means a lot,” Huff said. “He’s one of the greatest — if not the greatest — free safety to ever play the game. I talked to him last night. I told him I’d carry on his legacy and carry on the tradition of great safeties in Baltimore. I’m definitely going to go out there and hold up my end.”

He may not have fulfilled the great promised he once showed as a star for the Longhorns, but Huff is happy to be in Baltimore seven years after general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens showed interest in him leading up to the 2006 draft.

Huff is expected to start at free safety, but the University of Texas product views himself as a Swiss army knife in the secondary, evident last season when he made 14 starts at cornerback due to a high number of injuries in the Oakland secondary. It’s a valuable asset to have on game day when a team is limited to just 46 active players and is only an injury or two away from having a major predicament at any given position on the field.

“I’m going to go out there and play free safety, play strong safety, play corner if they need me to, to play nickel if they need me to,” Huff said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to help the defense and help us win.”

Joining a group of safeties with only one other veteran — 29-year-old James Ihedigbo — Huff said Thursday that he won’t shy away from mentoring younger players such as Christian Thompson, Omar Brown, Emanuel Cook, and Anthony Levine. Linked by their respective collegiate careers at Texas, Huff and cornerback Chykie Brown train together during the offseason.

It follows a predictable offseason script as Huff joins defensive ends Chris Canty and Marcus Spears and linebacker Elvis Dumervil as free-agent additions who will also bring positive veteran presences to a Ravens locker room that lost several leaders following the Super Bowl XLVII win.

“He fits us really well, both football-wise and technique-wise, the type of person he is, the type of family man he is,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s going to enable us to keep doing the things on defense that we have been doing and even build on those things.”

Moving beyond the iconic status of Reed after 11 years of the ball-hawking safety roaming the secondary for the Ravens, Huff might prove to be an upgrade over Reed as the 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year turns 35 at the beginning of the 2013 season. Reed’s tackling issues aren’t a secret after a nerve impingement has taken its toll on his neck and shoulder and the 2002 first-round pick admitted himself that his range had declined in recent years.

The cheaper price tag for a younger player also didn’t hurt in easing the pain of Reed’s decision to join the Texans.

“I think the thing that stands out is you look at a guy in the back end who has a lot of range,” secondary coach Teryl Austin said. “He is a good tackler coming out of the back end, and he’s durable. He has played a lot.”

Having missed only four games in his professional career, Huff adds a dependable piece to the back end of a defense that lost Reed and strong safety Bernard Pollard earlier this month.

Huff won’t be confused with having the big-play ability that Reed displayed in his time with the Ravens, but his steady and safe style might just be what the defense needs after the pass rush was boosted with the signing of the three-time Pro Bowl selection Dumervil. The new safety is far more interested in continuing a winning tradition — one he never experienced in the abyss of Oakland — than personal stats or another big contract.

“It’s defense and just winning,” Huff said. “At this point in my career, it’s not chasing money. It’s not chasing things like that. It’s chasing that Super Bowl ring. I don’t think there’s any better place than to come here. Baltimore is that place. If you want to come here and win a Super Bowl, then this is where you want to be.”

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Your Monday Reality Check: Can the “regression” talk regress now?

Posted on 25 March 2013 by Glenn Clark

Two of my absolute favorite people on the face of the planet are WNST.net’s own Luke Jones and Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole.

I really mean that. They’re not just two of my favorites in the business, they’re two of my favorites in the world. I love to talk shop with those guys, I love to chat about the world in general with them and I love getting the chance to spend time with them socially.

(This type of statement always leads to a “BUT….”, right? Not exactly this time.)

Both Jason and Luke joined me on “The Reality Check” during the first week of NFL free agency and separately brought up the same word, a specific word that has been repeated to me by a number of callers and e-mailers over the course of the last couple of weeks.

The word is “regression.” If you were playing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the moderator would tell you the word was of latin origin and could be defined as “a trend or shift toward a lower or less perfect state.” Perhaps the word could be used in a sentence along the lines of “After losing the players the Baltimore Ravens have lost thus far, we can expect regression from the team in 2013.”

That was essentially how both guys (and others) used the word over the last few weeks.

(You’re now CERTAIN there’s going to be a “BUT…” coming, aren’t you?)

I had to start every discussion about the term that I’ve had both on-air and off since the offseason began by accepting that Luke, Jason and everyone else who has suggested the Ravens are going to “regress” in 2013 are…well…probably right. I’m sorry. It had to be said.

They’re right because the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2012 and it will be very difficult for them to win the Super Bowl again in 2013. Any scenario that doesn’t involve the Ravens hoisting a third Vince Lombardi Trophy would technically mean they had “regressed” from where they were last season.

(Okay, now it’s time.)

BUT…I was never REALLY willing to accept the notion of “regression” for the Ravens at any point. Sunday’s signing of former Denver Broncos pass rusher Elvis Dumervil re-inforces that belief, but it absolutely did not establish it. I just hope the addition of Dumervil will force others to similarly push aside the notion of “regression” in 2013.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Reed proud to play final game with Ravens in Super Bowl

Posted on 22 March 2013 by Luke Jones

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.”

 

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Newsome, Harbaugh respond to Reed departure

Posted on 22 March 2013 by WNST Staff

Ravens General Manager & Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome:

“Our hope is that the Hall of Fame players we drafted could play their entire careers with us, but we understand why Ed is moving on to the Texans.

 

“He’s not the first Hall of Famer to move to another team. Tony Gonzalez is playing with the Falcons. Joe Montana played with the Chiefs. Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson played for the Ravens.

 

“How fortunate we were to have Ed with us for 11 seasons. He is one of the Ravens’ and NFL’s all-time greats. Words cannot measure what he did for us, including helping us win a second Super Bowl. We thank him for all he did for Baltimore. Ed will always be a part of the Ravens family.”

 

 

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh:

“Ed has had a major impact on our organization and our community. He is a great player and a great friend. We will always be thankful for what we accomplished together.”

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Former Ravens safety Pollard joining Titans

Posted on 21 March 2013 by Luke Jones

The morning after it was learned that longtime Ravens safety Ed Reed would be joining the Houston Texans, it appears his former partner in the defensive backfield will be moving into the AFC South as well.

Former Baltimore strong safety Bernard Pollard will join the Tennessee Titans on a one-year deal, as first reported by ESPN’s Josina Anderson. The reporter tweeted that Pollard informed her of the move Thursday morning, and Pollard’s agent Tory Dandy confirmed the news via Twitter.

The 28-year-old was released and designated as a post-June 1st release last week, meaning his $2 million base salary remains on the salary cap until that date. This allows general manager Ozzie Newsome to push $1.5 million in dead money to next year’s cap that otherwise would have been applied to the 2013 cap. Only this year’s prorated signing bonus amount of $750,000 will count against the cap.

In other words, the Ravens will receive an additional $2 million in cap space in June, which could provide flexibility in signing a veteran to address a need such as how they added guard Bobbie Williams last summer.

Pollard will join his fourth team in eight NFL seasons, leaving some to believe his strong-willed personality and outspoken nature led to his release, but coach John Harbaugh said in Phoenix that his release was solely a cap-related move. Veteran safety James Ihedigbo is projected to fill one of the two safety spots vacated by Pollard and Reed, but the Ravens are expected to address the position in April’s draft.

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Ed Reed leaving Ravens after 11 seasons

Posted on 20 March 2013 by Luke Jones

After a brilliant 11-year run that finally culminated with his first Super Bowl title in February, future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed is leaving the Baltimore Ravens to join the Houston Texans.

One of the best players in franchise history, Reed has agreed to a three-year contract to join Houston, leaving behind a legacy in Baltimore that included nine Pro Bowl selections and the 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. The decision comes almost a week after Reed was courted by the Texans in a full-court press of wining and dining.

Reed traveled to Houston after being picked up from his Atlanta home in Texas owner Bob McNair’s private jet, an unprecedented move in that organization’s history of courting free agents. The veteran safety met with team officials and coaches before leaving Houston without a contract despite numerous reports that a deal would be finalized last Friday.

After the temporary hiccup in the Texans’ bid to bring Reed to Houston, general manager Rick Smith continued to negotiate with agent David Dunn at the league meetings in Phoenix this week. Meanwhile, the Ravens continued to wait out the process as reports came out about Houston’s offer. Owner Steve Bisciotti and coach John Harbaugh both expressed optimism earlier this week that Reed would remain with the Ravens.

The Ravens’ first-round pick in the 2002 draft expressed his desire to finish his career where it started, but the sides did not agree on fair compensation for the 34-year-old’s services as Baltimore gave no indication of matching the $4 million per year the Texans were offering. Aside from remaining in touch with Reed throughout the process, the Ravens never jumped into a bidding war for the longtime safety’s services as it became increasingly clear Reed would need to take less money to remain in Baltimore.

Reed cited Houston’s proximity to his home state of Louisiana has a plus in making a potential decision to leave the only franchise he’s known as a professional. The Ravens and Texans are scheduled to play in Baltimore during the 2013 regular season.

The free-agent loss of the ball-hawking safety is especially difficult for Baltimore fans with the retirement of inside linebacker Ray Lewis after the Ravens’ 34-31 win in Super Bowl XLVII. Many hoped Reed might follow Lewis into retirement after tasting championship glory for the first time in his brilliant career, but the former University of Miami star made it known he had more football to play in his career.

“I always said when I came into the league and got drafted that I didn’t want to be one of those guys jumping from team to team,” Reed said in New Orleans prior to the Super Bowl. “If it was up to me, I would be right in Baltimore. If it happens to be somewhere else, I can play football on the moon.”

Instead, he’ll play in a city famous for facilitating lunar missions as Reed will attempt to push Houston over the divisional-round mountain they’ve been unable to climb in the last two seasons. Those postseason failures included a 20-13 loss in Baltimore to end the Texans’ 2011 season.

General manager Ozzie Newsome addressed Reed’s future at the Ravens’ end-of-season press conference by acknowledging there would likely be opportunities on the open market as his six-year, $44.5 million. Further complicating matters at the time was Reed’s lack of an agent, but Dunn was hired to represent him before the start of free agency, a surefire sign that the longtime Ravens was poised to depart for the right deal.

“I think he realizes there may be some other options out there, but I think if you watched him and watched his body language over the course of the last eight to 10 days, that he loves being here in Baltimore,” Newsome said on Feb. 7. “I think we can use that to help make that relationship last a little bit longer.”

In recent years, Reed’s performance has declined due to a nerve impingement in his shoulder and neck suffered at the end of the 2007 season as well as various other ailments, but opposing quarterbacks continued to account for the free safety on every play. Reed’s tackling ability appeared to decline rapidly over the last couple seasons to the point of some wondering how much longer he can stand to be an every-down player, but his ability in pass coverage remains steady.

Reed has hinted at retirement on a few occasions over the last few offseasons while also dropping cryptic hints that he was dissatisfied with his current. However, Newsome and the Ravens would simply bite their tongue, knowing the mercurial safety would report to training camp. In his final season with the Ravens, Reed skipped a mandatory minicamp in the spring before ultimately reporting on time for camp in late July.

Despite the appearance of that rift, Harbaugh expressed Tuesday how much his relationship had grown with Reed in what would prove to be their last season together.

“He was a great leader. Our relationship has just blossomed,” said Harbaugh, who has exchanged text messages with Reed during the offseason. “It’s been good, but this year with Ed especially, we really just got close. The leadership he brought to the team through [the Ray Lewis injury] was really fantastic.”

Through his various physical challenges, Reed played in all 16 regular-season games in each of the last two seasons.

In 11 seasons in Baltimore, Reed tallied 61 interceptions, a franchise record and the most in the NFL since his 2002 rookie season. In addition to being the NFL’s active leader in interceptions – ranked 10th all-time — Reed has an NFL-record 1,541 interception return yards in his career.

In his younger days, Reed was the most dangerous punt blocker in the league and considered the Ravens’ biggest playmaker when his hands touched the football. He is the only player in NFL history to return scores off a blocked punt, interception, punt return, and fumble recovery. Counting the postseason, Reed has scored a remarkable 14 touchdowns in his career.

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Harbaugh “very hopeful” Reed remains with Ravens

Posted on 19 March 2013 by Luke Jones

No news appears to be good news for Ravens fans hoping to see future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed stay in Baltimore.

While coach John Harbaugh said on Tuesday he was “very hopeful” that Reed would remain with the Ravens, Reed’s agent David Dunn and Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith continue to meet at the league meetings in Phoenix. However, neither side has been willing to budge as the Texans are offering $4 million per season, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Reed is seeking compensation more in line with the $7.2 million base salary he made last season before his six-year contract expired, making him an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. The Ravens have remained in contact with Reed throughout the process — including his free-agent visit to Houston last week — but are giving no indication that they’re actively bidding for the 34-year-old safety’s services.

“We’ll just have to see how it works out,” Harbaugh told WNST.net’s Nestor Aparicio and other reporters in Phoenix on Tuesday morning. “I think it’s kind of a situation where we know Ed really well. Ed and I are very close, and I know he’d tell you the same.”

The Texans continue to negotiate with Reed in hopes of working out a deal to bring the veteran to a secondary that struggled down the stretch last season — finishing 16th in pass defense — and lost free-agent safety Glover Quin to the Detroit Lions. However, Houston owner Bob McNair proclaimed Tuesday that the Texans will not compromise their salary cap in future years to bring Reed into the fold.

For now, Houston remains patient, but you have to wonder how much more energy the Texans will spend after their full-court press last week only resulted in Reed leaving town without a contract in place. Never a team known for being overly active in free agency, the Texans must also address the contracts of their two best defensive players in the near future.

“You have to be cautious,” McNair told The Houston Chronicle. “We’ve got [Brian] Cushing coming up and J.J. [Watt] next year. We have to make sure we have enough room under our cap. I think [Reed] can bring some leadership qualities to our secondary, and that’s one of the reasons we’re interested in him.”

As the Texans continued to work on a deal, Harbaugh took time to compliment Reed’s work last season and reiterated the value he’s always brought to the Ravens. The coach said he’s kept in touch with his longtime safety with text messages throughout the offseason and shared how much Reed has enjoyed spending time with his son in his Atlanta home this offseason.

Harbaugh may have little to do with the dollars and cents that will make it work financially for Reed to re-sign with the Ravens, but it was apparent he wanted to show Reed plenty of love in Phoenix.

“He had his healthiest year that he’s had in the last few years,” Harbaugh said. “He was a great leader. Our relationship has just blossomed. It’s been good, but this year with Ed especially, we really just got close. The leadership he brought to the team through [the Ray Lewis injury] was really fantastic.”

 

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