Baltimore Ravens: Where Will All-Star Safety Ed Reed Play Next Season?
Super Bowl Sunday is a mere three days away, and like any good championship game, story lines are aplenty. The clash of the Harbaugh brothers, the last game of Ray Lewis' career, and whether or not Beyonce will be lip-synching during her halftime performance have been the talk of the town.
In the last few hours, a new story has emerged: The future of B-More safety Ed Reed.
Reed is a free agent after the Super Bowl, and while it shouldn't be that much of a concern with the most important game of the season around the corner, Reed's comments about his future have garnered some attention:
"I could definitely play for coach Belichick...He is a great coach. I'm sure he can help me to expand my football knowledge even more as a player and as a coach, so if I'm ever able to be around him, just like I was at the Pro Bowl, it's huge."
On the surface, this might seem like simple praise for one of the best coaches in the history of the NFL, but the fact that Reed has such a fondness for Belichick, going as far as emulating his cut-off-sleeves-of-sweatshirts "fashion", Ed Reed playing in New England next season doesn't seem too far-fetched.
That being said, there are 30 other teams in the NFL apart from Baltimore and New England, several of which will be participating in the auction for Reed's services. So, where will number 20 be suiting up come August? Let's take a look.
Staying in Baltimore
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Why It Could Happen:
Reed knows what he's getting out of Baltimore. He's been a part of the organization since being drafted by them in 2002.
The fact that the Ravens are a constant playoff team can convince Reed his best chances for championships is in B-More. If the Ravens can leave New Orleans as champions, it'll be all the more helpful in convincing Reed to stay put.
Salary cap. Reed isn't the only player on Baltimore with an expiring contract, as starting quarterback Joe Flacco is in the last year of his deal too.
Earlier in the season, Flacco struggled, and his future in a Ravens jersey was starting to be questioned. Yet in the playoffs, he has yet to throw an interception and has been playing, for lack of a better term, "elite".
Flacco wants Manning money, and his play as of late poses a compelling argument. It's fair to suggest that the Ravens would not be playing for a Super Bowl if someone else was taking snaps for them.
Flacco will be paid, and while the actual amount is still up in the air, it's going to be a hefty sum. One that might prevent Reed from getting a contract of his liking.
Reed's future in Baltimore will come down to the organization's willingness to part with numerous other players, including Flacco's favorite target Anquan Boldin. Obviously, all this takes a back seat to the game on Sunday, but as soon as the Lombardi is hoisted, Baltimore's front office will be hard at work.
New England Patriots
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Why It Could Happen:
As stated earlier, Reed has respect and admiration for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. The Pats pass defense was among the worst in the league in 2012, and an elite safety like Reed could help bring the defensive unit back to its dominant status of yesteryear.
Like the Ravens, the Patriots are always contenders to win a Super Bowl. Unlike Baltimore, however, New England is the only dominant team in its division.
Money, money, money. The same situation that makes Reed's future in Baltimore unknown puts a slight snag in the plans to bring number 20 to New England.
Among New England's free agents this season are wide receiver Wes Welker, cornerback Aqib Talib, and tackle Sebastian Vollmer. It's a physical impossibility for New England to make these three men happy if they sign Reed, meaning someone has to walk.
Another thing to consider is Reed's age. At 34, Reed still has some skill left, but he is undoubtedly past his prime.
Considering the Pats let both Ty Law and Richard Seymour walk in their respective primes a few years back, I feel that Reed might ask for more than New England feels he's worth.
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Why It Could Happen:
The Colts are a young team that will have plenty of cap space in the offseason, but the drawing factor is coach Chuck Pagano.
Pagano served as Baltimore's defensive coordinator in 2011, giving him some experience with Reed.
Indy's pass defense wasn't too impressive last season, and a veteran mind like Ed Reed can be just what the doctor ordered to build a formidable defense. Besides, it's not like this would be the first time something left Baltimore for Indianapolis...
I don't see one. The Colts can pay whatever Reed asks for, and would be a big improvement over Indy's current options at safety.
The reuniting of Reed and Pagano is just begging to happen, and I can't see anything short of Reed staying in Baltimore preventing this from happening.
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Why It Could Happen:
The Cowboys are an interesting possibility. Dallas is always one step away from the playoffs, yet that step changes every single season.
One of the biggest issues Dallas had this season was the defensive unit as a whole. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan got kicked to the curb due to a lack of turnovers, with the boys having a league low seven takeaways.
Reed alone had seven combined interceptions and fumble recoveries.To say he would improve the Cowboys defense is an understatement.
Cowboys will be boys. I don't know what it is, but I just have a bad feeling about this one. Dallas is going to be suffering a salary cap penalty as a result of 2010 contract free loading, and they don't have much wiggle room as it is.
I'm sure the Dallas front office would be willing to make some moves to open enough space for Reed, and Jerry Jones would be one of the most willing head honchos to take a gamble and pay a tad more than Reed's worth. I just have a hunch Reed doesn't have Dallas on his destination radar just yet.
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Why It Could Work:
Starter Madieu Williams was inefficient this season, only recording one interception and missing several tackles over the course of the season.
The Redskin pass defense as a whole left much to be desired, ranked 30th in pass yards allowed. Reed could serve as an experienced player giving the young defensive squadron some leadership.
Much like Dallas, Washington is hit with a cap penalty from 2010, with their fine costing them $10 million.
Washington is also a youth-oriented team, a billing that Reed doesn't necessary fit. I think Washington will look elsewhere for a solution to it's safety issue, whether through the draft or a younger free agent.
New York Jets
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Why It Could Work:
Like Pagano in Indy, Reed has ties with Jets head coach Rex Ryan. Ryan was a part of the Ravens organization from 1999 to 2008, meaning the two had six years of experience together.
The Jets are in disarray after an abysmal 2012 season, and their organization isn't above getting a big name to get a big name (see Tebow, Tim).
With the offense a giant question mark, Reed might be a vital piece in getting the Jets defense back to the levels that carried them to back to back AFC Championships.
Tannenbaum's gone. The GM who was responsible for overpaying Mark Sanchez and bringing in Tebow, only for him to do absolutely nothing, has been replaced.
If Tanny was still in town, I'd have absolutely no difficulty in seeing Reed being offered a contract. But there's a new guy in the front office, and John Idzik is going to try and fix the disaster he inherited, with offense being the primary concern.
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At this point, I see the two most likely destinations for Ed Reed in 2013 are Baltimore and Indianapolis.
Being with the Ravens since 2002, Reed may decided to follow in the footsteps of Ray Lewis and finish his career as a full-time Raven.
Should Baltimore let him walk, I think the history Pagano has with Reed mixed with the cap space freedom the Colts have will lead to this bird landing in Indianapolis.
And if the scenario plays out to be the latter, something tells me Jim Irsay will become just as loved in B-More as his father was.