July 19, 2009
All this crazy stuff going on in RavensLand the last week! I choose not to fully comment on Mason's retirement because it seems so bizarre. I don't have any idea his intentions (or lack thereof) for announcing it so quickly, but I obviously hope that he will change his mind. If he does, I am going to go on record as calling him Brett for the rest of the season. Mark my words!!!
But what I find interesting is Suggs new deal. It seemed obvious that the amount would be somewhere in the ballpark of where it eventually landed. Terrell was looking for Dwight Freeney money, and that's what he got. I was opposed to such a huge contract at first, but I have come to accept it for two reasons:
1. Suggs has been completely reliable for us. He has never missed a game in his career. His skills at outside linebacker are as wide and talented as there is in the league. Where I once wondered about his pass-rushing ability, I am now content that he is not a pure defensive end. His repertoire is extraordinary, and we are a perfect team to utilize it. Plus, his performance last year, even when clearly injured, was completely impressive. His play on the field warrants a large contract, and no longer can I deny that.
2. Suggs pretty much fits the mold for a Ravens defender. No matter what people say about our defense's success, it has always boiled down to the personnel. We continue to be a top defense because we have some of the best players. Coordinators come and go, players come and go, head coaches come and go. But whenever those things change, our players are still always top notch, hence the success. Well Suggs is another example of Baltimore continuing that tradition. The history of Ravens' first round picks has been clear. We keep the guys that are worth building a team around. We kept Ray, we kept Reed, we kept McAllister. All of those guys received huge deals after their rookie contracts and became the building blocks to great defenses. Look at the people we let go: Starks, Baxter, Sharper, Hartwell. All of those guys were great position players, but none of them were worth spending big money on. And we were proven right in that situation, with most of them receiving big money from other teams only to be considered flops. So what I am saying is that we give our great first-round picks big contracts and use them as the rocks of defense. With those guys in place, we find great position players who will do their role and be reliable. We are saying to Suggs that he will be one of the 3 most important players on our team for six years. That is something that I can certainly feel comfortable about because of Suggs' presence as well as our previous success in big contracts. Besides, big, long contracts always seem to look good 3 years down the road when 15 other contracts have already been signed that are longer and bigger than that.
Get ready to see Suggs on every List of Top Defenders in the League now, however. Though he is already known as a very good player, he was never listed as a top 15 or top 30 defender. The players that receive big contracts somehow always end up on these lists the year after. I don't know why that is exactly, but maybe it's just because of the attention that the player gets because of the big numbers. Either way, watch out for Suggs name everywhere this year, whether his play warrants it or not.
One more note. This contract frees up a lot more cap room for the Ravens. Let's see them continue signing first rounders big money by laying a huge contract in front of Haloti Ngata's agent sometime this offseason. If you are talking building blocks of a defense, I don't know if there is a better candidate than the multi-talented beast known as Haloti.
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