|Ed Reed doesn't want to break the bank on a new contract, says it's 'about respect.' (Getty Images)|
We're nearly three months removed from their last game, but the Ravens have been in the news a lot recently. Quarterback Joe Flacco told a Baltimore radio station that he considers himself the league's best quarterback, running back Ray Rice says he's outplayed his rookie deal (general manager Ozzie Newsome agrees), and strong safety Bernard Pollard thinks the Sean Payton punishment is "outrageous."
Pollard's defensive backfield partner, free safety Ed Reed, becomes the latest Ravens player to speak out, and in his case it's about his contract. Specifically, he feels disrespected. "For what I give on the football field and for what they know they're going to get, it's much more than these young guys out here today and what they're getting," Reed said during a radio appearance (via the team's website by way of CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Jason Butt). I got some unfinished business. I got a lot on my mind I've been thinking about. The truth of the matter is, it's about respect. It's about getting respect and it's a business."
Ask the average person who the Ravens' most important player is and Ray Lewis is the knee-jerk response. And over the course of his career that's true. But the last five or six seasons? That honor goes to Reed. Either way, the 2002 first-round pick out of the University of Miami just wants to be treated fairly.
"My plan when I went to negotiate was always, it's always to help the team," he said. "I was not trying to break the bank. Do I deserve a good substantial amount? I mean you look at Peyton [Manning, Broncos quarterback]. Peyton got five [years] for $96 [million]? I know I'm not a quarterback, but at the end of the day … "They pay certain positions certain ways. I'm different, man."
Reed is different. A rundown of some of his NFL accomplishments: eight-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro, 2004 AFC and NFL Defensive Player of the Year, three-time NFL interception leader, and Sporting News All-Decade Team.
In 10 seasons, Reed has 57 interceptions for 1,463 yards (that's works out to a 25.7-yards-per-pick average) and six touchdowns. He also has 11 forced fumbles and 94 passes defended. But it's more that stats -- Reed alters games just by being on the field. (Just listen to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady marvel at Reeds' skills as they game-planned for a 2009 matchup.) Baltimore's defense allowed 11 touchdowns in 2011 and it's reasonable to think that Reed has a lot to do with that. (And so did cornerback Lardarius Webb ... who just got paid.)
"When I'm on the football field, I'm giving you everything," Reed said. "Do the Ravens know that? Yes they do. Did Ozzie [Newsome, general manager] know that Ed Reed was going to be playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers regardless of negotiating his contract? Yes he did. Did Ed Reed get the respect that he deserves? No he did not. Am I gonna get it? Probably won't. Hopefully he do. If I don't, then, hey man, I'm alright with me."
Reed understands that what he's putting his body through now will have consequences down the road. But in his mind, his family comes first.
"And I know if I'm giving my heart to football, it's going to take a toll on my later life," he said. "My family has got to be taken care of. I don't want to hear that I'm getting old. I don't want to hear that."
It's hard to argue that Reed isn't worth whatever he's asking. The problem is that the Ravens don't have a lot of cap space and they have a couple other, younger priorities to address first -- and that's after they just inked Webb to a six-year, $50 million deal.
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