Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Suggs play suggests training camp is overrated

Terrell Suggs has certainly made a statement already in 2008 and it says that for veterans familiar with a system who stay in shape, training camp is overrated. Suggs has shown improvement over the past few years in run support but slumped in ’07 getting after the quarterback. With Trevor Pryce back, healthy and in great shape, Suggs should be a more menacing presence for opposing quarterbacks.

That said it will be interesting to see how the balance of ’08 unfolds for the potential 2009 free agent. Suggs and his representatives want No. 55 to be the highest paid defender in football. Don’t expect the Ravens to concede on that.

Bart Scott and Ray Lewis are not under contract for the 2009 season yet both are performing well under pressure. Scott has been very effective attacking the line of scrimmage and Lewis continues to make game changing plays as evidence by his strip of Chris Perry against the Bengals and his de-cleating hit on Kellen Winslow this past Sunday against the Browns. The two inside linebackers are looking to cash in on their ’08 efforts next year at the bargaining table. And while that may benefit the Ravens this season, it will hurt them next year when managing the cap.

The guess here is that Suggs will be franchised again and the Ravens will only re-sign one of either Scott or Lewis – at best. The evolution of the NFL suggests that the Ravens can find capable if not spectacular inside linebackers who can perform far more economically than the Ravens’ incumbents and that the money would be put to better use on the defensive line and in the secondary. One only needs to look at the New York Giants for proof.

Don’t be surprised to see the Ravens make a real push for a true No. 1 receiver in 2009. Not only do they need one but it would improve their returns on investments they’ve made in Willis McGahee, Mark Clayton, Todd Heap and of course Joe Flacco. Projected 2009 free agents Roy Williams and Lee Evans come to mind.

Another contract that the Ravens should no longer ignore is that of Jason Brown’s. With Brown and their developing guards (Ben Grubbs, Marshal Yanda), the Ravens potentially have an interior line that could be among the league’s elite for a number of years. The longer Ozzie Newsome delays Brown’s re-signing the more it will cost and that’s less money available for them to obtain the coveted No. 1 receiver.

The team will look for tough, well rounded receivers that can contribute in many ways – players like Hines Ward and Anquan Bolden both of which played some quarterback during their collegiate days at Georgia and Florida State, respectively.