Thursday, July 16, 2009
LB Suggs signs with Ravens, loses franchise tag
BALTIMORE (AP)—Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs signed a six-year, $63 million contract Wednesday, making him the highest-paid linebacker in NFL history.
The contract, which assures him $38 million in guaranteed money, provides a long-term solution to Suggs’ unsettled status as the team’s franchise player.
“I’m looking forward to showing them that they didn’t make a mistake and they got the right guy,” said Suggs, the Ravens’ franchise player for the past two seasons. The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder had until 4 p.m. Wednesday to work out a deal or face being stuck with the franchise tag for another year.
“I am glad it is over. Now we can get back to football,” Suggs said. “Getting this done took compromises on both ends. I wanted to stay in purple and black, the Ravens wanted to keep me in purple in black, and they stepped up and showed me that.”
Had Suggs not signed, he would have played the season for $10.17 million and become a free agent next season.
“Getting a deal done with Terrell is consistent with our history of retaining our best Pro Bowl players, like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “Securing Terrell for six seasons gives us a premier pass-rusher whose ability to stop the run does not get enough credit.”
During his six years with the Ravens, Suggs has 53 sacks, forced 19 fumbles and has not missed a game. He led Baltimore with eight sacks last season and added four more in the postseason, including two in the AFC championship game against Pittsburgh after missing an entire week of practice with a shoulder injury.
“This will be Suggs’ seventh season, and he is still a young player,” Newsome said. “Remember, he came to us as a 20-year old rookie after his junior year in college. This is a good day for the Ravens franchise.”
The 26-year-old Suggs was selected by the Ravens out of Arizona State with the 10th overall pick in the 2003 draft. The three-time Pro Bowl selection is considered one of the best pass-rushers in the league, and has also returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
“I’m going to continue to be the dominant player I’ve always been,” Suggs said. “My best years are ahead of me.”
As a franchise player, Suggs could have missed most of training camp. Now he will be expected to report with the rest of the veterans during the last week in July.
“I was already excited to start training camp, and now having Terrell there makes it that much better,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He is a great player, a tremendous person and an outstanding young leader. He’s a foundation for our defense to stay at the highest level.”