Some have suggested that the Ravens might use the franchise tag on Ray Lewis if the two sides remain light years apart on contractual numbers.
Tag Ray Lewis in ‘09?
Are you kidding me?
Look I get that Ray is the face of the Ravens and I admire all of his accomplishments on the field and his leadership skills. But let’s face it—Ray is not the player he once was and he is not among the top five players at linebacker anymore. The franchise tag would pay Ray the average of the top five linebacker salaries. He should be happy to get that, but we all know he wouldn’t be. He’d say something foolish like this:
“Football is just getting started for me. Some people try to lie to you and tell you as you get older that you decline. If you take care of yourself right, you never decline. Your decline only starts when you stop having the energy. My energy for it is more now than when I was a young kid."
"When you come back and your mind is completely free, then you want to play football every year. I don't build my body up for one season. What I did this offseason is build my body up for another three or four. Realistically after that, it's all situational.”
Realistically Ray is unrealistic.
Do yourself a favor and come to this realty—the NFL is a business and with Ray’s next round of negotiations it will be, or already is, a high stakes game of poker.
The Ravens front office needs to play out their hand. Let Ray hit the open market. Chances are Steve Bisciotti is right. The Ravens will outbid everyone else and if they play the game right, the price will not be anywhere near the number Ray thinks it will be.
Ray hired a new agent and this new agent more than likely made promises to Ray about another big signing bonus. Well what else was this hired rainmaker supposed to say? He had to promise something, right?
Here’s a safe bet—whatever Ray’s new handlers get for him going forward it will pale in comparison to what they likely promised. And then they too will be fired.
Next agent up?
Tagging Ray shouldn’t happen. Besides, the team might need that franchise tag for Terrell Suggs again next year, although the argument could also be made that Suggs isn’t among the top five at his position either. Come to think of it, while Suggs is a very good player, he’s not a $30 million plus signing bonus player.
No one asked me, but count me among those who feel that Suggs is a bit overrated. If you want to be paid more than any other defender then you better be an impact player NOT dependent upon Trevor Pryce to eat up pass protectors so that you can get favorable one-on-one match ups.
Did Reggie White need someone else to eat up two blockers to be effective? No, Reggie took on the two blockers and was still effective.
Now you might say that no one even thinks that Suggs is Reggie White. Well you are wrong. His agent apparently thinks so, and if Gary Wichard wants Suggs to be the highest paid defender, logic would suggest that Suggs is the best defender.
He’s not the best defender. He's probably not even the Ravens’ best defender.
For years Peter Boulware took on double teams sometimes with his arm in a sling. Is Suggs any better than Boulware? Is he as good as Boulware? Can he impact the game like old No. 58?
I’ll admit that Suggs is probably a better all around linebacker than Boulware. He supports the run much more efficiently and scrapes down the line of scrimmage as well as any OLB in the league on runs to the opposite side of the line.
He’s still young and probably has seven or so seasons left in him. But if Suggs doesn’t get it done in ’08 should the Ravens cave in to a $30 million demand? And if he does get it done, will $30 million be enough?
I don’t think so…
The Ravens might find a $9 million franchise figure in '09 much more appealing than a $40 million noose.
Tony Lombardi covers the Baltimore Ravens for Profootball24x7.com
Photo by Sabina Moran