Terrell Suggs has said in the past that he wanted to wear one jersey for his entire career, and it looks like he’ll get his wish.
The Ravens announced Monday that they have signed Suggs to a four-year, $30 million extension that could keep him in Baltimore through 2018. The contract includes an $11 million bonus and $16 million guaranteed.
“I’ve just got to thank you guys,” Suggs said, looking at general manager Ozzie Newsome. “If you count the franchise tag, this is the fourth time I’ve had the opportunity to continue my play here and I’m truly grateful and flattered. It’s a first-class organization and I’m really honored that I do get the opportunity to finish my career where I started it at and this is a really great day for me, and I’m truly flattered and honored. I get to be a Raven for life.
“I can’t thank Pat (Moriarty, senior vice president of football administration) enough. Throughout the whole negotiations, both sides came to the table, ‘Let’s get this done, let’s do what’s right,’ and you can’t ask for more for a player in my position - both sides willing to get the job done. I can’t thank Pat enough. I can’t thank my agent, Joel Segal, enough. And I cannot forget this organization and Steve Bisciotti.
“Anytime contract issues have come up with me, they have always stepped up to the plate and went yard with it. So I’m truly grateful. And I can’t thank the city, the fans enough because they may not think I see what they say to me on Twitter, but they have as much influence on me staying, as much influence on our front office getting a deal done as anybody. The fans really spoke, they really wanted me to stay here and that’s why I’m glad to say Sizzle’s here for life now. I’m a lifer.”
Suggs, 31, has put together quite the career with the Ravens, playing 165 games over 11 seasons and missing more than three contests in a season only once. He is the franchise leader with 94.5 sacks, including 10 in 2013. Suggs has been named a Pro Bowler six times and an All-Pro twice.
In beginning his offseason work, Newsome said he was reminded of just how valuable Suggs still is to the organization.
“Over the past week or so, with the draft and free agency, I’ve had the opportunity to go back and just watch some players, and a lot of times when we watch players, we like to see how they play against our team. While doing that, I’ve gained a new appreciation for how Terrell affects offenses when they come to Baltimore, when we play on the road,” Newsome said. “He affects them in the passing game as well as the running game. It was something that jumped out at me while looking at other players around the league and trying to evaluate them.”
Alongside keeping Suggs aboard, a significant benefit for the Ravens is the cap room provided by extending the contract. Suggs was set to count $12.4 million against the 2014 cap, but that figure has been lowered to $7.8 million.
Suggs said providing the team with payroll flexibility was among his goals.
“The No. 1 priority for myself, Ozzie and everybody else in this building is to win,” he said. “How do we win? This is the business side of it where I needed to help bring in guys so that we can win. We want to win and we want to win by any means necessary.”
Newsome was asked how long Suggs needs to play for the extension to make sense financially.
“When we put a deal together, we do look at it from that aspect,” Newsome said. “But No. 1, we look at a guy’s age. We look at how many times he’s been injured and we factor all those things in putting together the number of years. Ray (Lewis) played what? Sixteen, 17 years. I just saw Matt Stover, who was here working out with his son yesterday and he said he played - I didn’t realize - until he was 42. So what we tried to do, we try to put together a deal that is a win-win for the player and the organization. Whether he plays for two years or three years, we have a mechanism to be able to deal with the salary cap that would make it friendly for us and friendly for Terrell.”
Suggs believes he has some juice left to make the extension worthwhile.
“People may seem like, ‘He’s going into his 12th year.’ But people also forget that I came in when I was 20,” Suggs said. “Most guys that are going into their 12th year, they came on when they’re 23 or 25, and they’re going on 37, 35. I’m only 31 years old and when the 2014 season starts, I’ll still be 31 years old. I guess what you’re asking me is you can expect some Sizzle next year.”
But the important thing to Suggs is that he gets to stay in one place for his entire career.
“It wasn’t a goal coming in. You learn those things as you go,” Suggs said. “I was very unfamiliar of the man, of Ray Lewis. I only knew what he’s most known for, for what he did on the football field. But I’ve learned the value of a legacy - being on one team, in one uniform your whole career. Like I said, you learn about priorities when you play with a man like that. So at the beginning, it was just like, ‘I’m going to go here and I’m going to shock the - I’m going to take the league over.’ Like young, stupid, arrogant, that 20-year-old saying I’m going to take it over. But I was quickly humbled with a pie. But I picked all that up as I came along. It was like, I don’t want to go anywhere else. This city loves me. ...
“That’s definitely the message. That’s the plan unless Ozzie’s got a trick up his sleeve. That’s definitely it. Sizzle will be a Raven for life.”