Last year around this time, the Ravens slapped the franchise tag on Terrell Suggs for the second straight season, meaning the linebacker was guaranteed a one-year contract.
It also meant that Suggs was not required to participate in team minicamps while he and the Ravens tried to negotiate a long-term deal.
The two sides eventually came to terms on a six-year, $63 million deal in mid-July, but when training camp rolled around a couple weeks later, Suggs entered the grueling month of practices without having operated on a team-monitored offseason workout schedule.
"I think he came in out of shape," Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said recently.
Suggs looked to be a bit overweight in camp and he injured his heel early on, causing him to miss a good portion of the team's practices and preseason games. He didn't appear to be himself throughout much of the season, and posted a career-low 4.5 sacks on the year. (A sprained knee suffered mid-way through the season didn't help Suggs' cause, however.)
This time around, Suggs' offseason schedule will be a little different.
Now that his future with the Ravens is certain, the 27-year-old linebacker has agreed to stay in Baltimore over the next few months for the team's entire workout program. As you can imagine, that news delights Bisciotti and head coach John Harbaugh.
"I think that it's really important that he's here," Harbaugh said last month. "We've had that conversation. It's my understanding that he feels like it's really important to be here. To get in the kind of world-class shape that he wants to get into, that we need him to get into, we think here is the place for him, by far, to be.
"Also, to be a leader, to be up in front of those guys and be leading those workouts, that's important. But also, to really develop your skills, especially as a pass rusher, you can really work on those things in the offseason...To me, it's vitally important that he's here, and we plan on him being here."
The Ravens' workout program will begin later in the month, so Suggs isn't actually here just yet. But that doesn't mean he's sitting on the beach sipping Mai Tais.
Talking with reporters a few days ago at the NFL Combine, Harbaugh said that Suggs has already started working out in Arizona, the state where the three-time Pro Bowler played his college ball.
2009 might have been a down year for Suggs statistically, but the Ravens' brass still have plenty of faith that he can return to the form that made him one of the more feared pass rushers in the game a couple years ago.
And they feel that an offseason spent in Owings Mills is a good place to start.
"He's still a dominant player," Bisciotti said. "I think that we've got him in the direction that we want to get him back to, and he's still very young. We're lucky to have a guy with that much experience. Not many -year-olds have 60-something sacks behind him, so I think he's going to do fine."
Coming up later today: Some thoughts from Harbaugh on how a newcomer to the Ravens coaching staff will help Suggs and the Ravens' pass rush in 2010.