Thursday, March 06, 2008

Are Terrell Suggs and his agent barking up the wrong tree?

The Ravens recently released Mike & Mike (Flynn & Anderson) to carve out about $3 million in cap space. They also restructured the deals of Todd Heap and Jonathan Ogden to create more room. All of these moves were executed in part to enable the team to franchise Terrell Suggs while they try and work out a long term deal.

But Suggs appears to be making it difficult for the Ravens to do exactly that. Yesterday Suggs and his representatives filed a grievance against the team that will be reviewed in an arbitration hearing headed by an NFL special master. Suggs claims that he played more than 50 percent of his snaps at defensive end last year.

What’s the big deal you ask?

Well the franchise tag for defensive ends ($8.879 million) is $814,000 more than that for linebackers ($8.065 million). Could this be Gary Wichard’s (Suggs’ agent) way of making the tag more difficult for the Ravens thus forcing them to the bargaining table with a few less chips?

Side bar: And by the way, how much will Wichard want for Suggs when a player considered to be a bust not too long ago (OLB Calvin Pace) just nailed the Jets for $22 million guaranteed?

You can’t fault Suggs’ handlers for doing what they are paid to do yet you have to wonder how this might affect the club’s view of T-Sizzle. The Ravens have traditionally taken very good care of their first round picks. Ogden, Heap, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed all re-signed with the team and each was extended a then record contract for their respective positions.

Moreover, it would seem to me that the Ravens have a strong argument in this case. Suggs was listed as a starting outside linebacker in each game in '07. Now it’s quite possible that the team anticipated a franchise tag for Suggs and they recognized that such a move might save them money.

Did Suggs argue with his linebacker designation when he went to Hawaii as a Pro Bowler twice (following the ’04 and ’06 seasons)? Do you think that he would have been chosen as a defensive end following his second season over the Pro Bowl stalwarts John Abraham, Jason Taylor or Dwight Freeney? Do you think he may have been selected as a DE over any of the following (2 year sack total) in ’06: Derrick Burgess (27); Aaron Schobel (26); Jason Taylor (25.5)?

Neither do I!

Suggs should be happy with the designation because being listed as a linebacker allowed him to be selected to the Pro Bowl team twice and those two awards are certainly worth more than the $814K he and his handlers are whining about. But I guess that’s just business.

I wonder if Lawrence Taylor considered himself a defensive end…


Anonymous said...

I'm on the fence with this one. On the one hand, Suggs, while arguably a "tweener", IS a LB, not a DE, as far as I'm concerned. However, IF he did, in fact, play more than 50% of the downs in 2007 as a DE, then I think he and/or his agent have a case. It detracts from the "big picture" of trying to focus on a long term deal, but when solely focusing on the franchise tag picture, it's not unreasonable for him to seek arbitration, IMO.

However, I think a bigger part of the bigger picture is whether or not the Ravens are going to continue to dole out huge contracts to "special" players, and/or how special does a player need to be to get that kind of contract. The Ravens keep saying that they've learned from the past not to mortgage the future for any one player. Yet it seems that that's what would happen if Suggs were to get his big pay day. You can't have it both ways. And personally, I think that if Suggs just wants to get the most money he can, he probably should do it elsewhere. I just don't think he's all that indispensable.

ravcol said...

The "problem" is easily solved by doing what the Packers did with DT Corey Williams. Trade the franchised one for a second or third round pick and use it for a QB. It a'int rocket science folks...