It’s been less than a month since the Ravens brought the Lombardi Trophy back to Baltimore and already it’s time for the front office to make some critical personnel decisions for the 2013 season. Much of the bandwidth to this point has been consumed with discussions on Flacco’s impending deal. To be sure, re-signing the Super Bowl MVP is an important concern for the team, but based on comments from Ravens’ executives, the decision is not “if”, but “how much.” This is indeed an important consideration because how the team keeps Joe in a Ravens jersey will greatly affect how much cash they will have to retain other free agents.
Bubbling slightly below the surface of the Flacco negotiation is concern over Ed Reed’s future with the squad. The future hall of famer became an unrestricted free agent after that glorious win in New Orleans and rumors are aflutter that the ace might be lured out of Charm City by the cash recently freed up in New England after Tom Brady’s new deal was inked.
This is not an impossible proposition, but I think it is unlikely for a few reasons.
First, regardless of the positive sentiments flowing between Reed and Belichick, the Patriots have more urgent needs. While the Patriots certainly need to focus on their secondary, Talib’s free agency and Dennard’s legal issues make the cornerback spot their chief concern. Also, the Patriots will have to use a large part of that new-found cap space to ensure they can keep some quality receivers around their bargain quarterback.
Next, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the Ravens and Flacco arrive at a deal that offers the squad the ability to retain at least some of the weapons that allowed Joe to shine. Despite the rhetoric, Joe knows that he needs the Ravens as much as they need him.
And finally, Ed Reed has hinted at retirement after the last few seasons and all signs point to the fact that he wants to retire as a Raven (and that the Ravens would love for him to do so). I do not think that it is serendipity that led to Reed’s return for another season. Indeed, to end a Canton-esque career under the shadow of legendary Ray Lewis would have been a slight to both Ray Ray and Ed.
Therefore, I am hopeful that we will see #20 back on the field in a Ravens jersey next season. In addition to providing leadership on the defensive side of the ball, creating excitement for fans and fear for opposing quarterbacks, Ed’s return will reduce the pressure on front office personnel to find another safety. This will provide time for Omar Brown to further develop (an exciting player in his own right), and allow the Ravens to focus their limited cap space and draft picks on far greater needs – linebackers, offensive linemen, and receivers.