The Baltimore Ravens were a wide left kick and a down's clock away from the Super Bowl last season. Will a heartbreak hangover carry over to the 2012 season? We will soon see, but there are issues clouding this year's training camp that may have more of an ill effect.
As an organization, the Ravens have had an uncanny ability to get out ahead of potential distraction before they even surface. This season, Ozzie Newsome and Company appear to be playing chicken with Mayflower trucks this offseason.
As training camp draws closer, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Ed Reed are in the midst of contract issues with no progress to date. The Ravens leadership is in a tough spot being that each respective player has a case for wanting a new deal.
QB, Joe Flacco
In terms of being a Baltimore Ravens quarterback, Flacco has a lot of leverage and a lot to hang his hat on, as he's set records since stepping into to league in 2008. Flacco has the most combined regular season and playoff wins for a quarterback in his first three years at 36 games. Flacco also has the most wins for any quarterback in his first four seasons at 44 wins.
Additionally, Flacco is the first quarterback to ever win his first four playoff games, three of which were on the road. Flacco is slated to make $6.7 million this season and is a free agent there after.
RB, Ray Rice
Mighty Mouse was mightily productive last season with 2,000 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns. Rice, at only 25 years of age is looking for a long-term deal paying approximately $9-$10 million per season.
Rice has leverage in that he primarily is the Ravens offense.
Rice had a total of 367 touches (rush attempts and catches) last season leading the team by a long shot. Rice also has leverage in the fact that the Ravens have no plan B at running back this season.
S, Ed Reed
Reed may have less of a leg to stand on than Rice or Flacco. Reed, at age 33, is entering the last year of a $44 million extension signed in 2006. Reed and his representation know that his next deal may very well be his last.
Reed’s leverage is that—well, he’s Ed Reed.
Reed is sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer and one of the greatest defensive players in Ravens history, which says a lot. Reed’s recent injury history makes him a bit of a gamble, which probably means if there is a decision between the three Reed probably will be odd man out.
The success of the Ravens 2012 season may hinge on how well they manage these three contract negotiations. Honestly, I believe that the Ravens will have a 10-6 or 9-7 season based on the schedule they have this season. That factors games they should win, others I believe they may lose and one or two games where they get Miami Heat syndrome. Miami Heat syndrome meaning games they will lose because they think they will win just by showing up (i.e. Jacksonville and Seattle last season).
Ultimately the Ravens' season will end with them losing a playoff game that they should’ve won like it always does. Sorry.
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