Terrell Suggs is entering the 2019 offseason with his future unknown.
The linebacker, who just wrapped up his 16th season in the league, completed his four-year, $20,700,000 contract and will become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts March 13.
Drafted by the Ravens 10th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, Suggs has become the leader of the No. 1 ranked defense while maintaining his level of performance. In 2018, the 36-year-old played in all 16 games totaling 25 tackles, seven sacks and one forced fumble.
But now general manager Eric DeCosta and the Ravens are faced with the question of whether or not to re-sign the physical and vocal leader of their defense. If it's up to Suggs, he'll be back in Baltimore.
"I would love to be a Raven for life," Suggs said after the team's Wild Card loss. "I’m healthy, and I still feel like I have some juice in the tank. I would love to be a Raven for life. We’ll have to see what happens. It’s a long time between here and March. So, we’re just going to enjoy it and hope we can work it out. If not, I’ll be lining up for somebody next year.”
In 16 seasons, Suggs has become the Ravens' all-time leader in sacks at 132.5 and is tied for 13th on the NFL's all-time sack list with Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor and Leslie O'Neal. He's an seven-time Pro Bowler, Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, a two-time All Pro and Super Bowl XLVII champion.
It's natural to think that retiring as a Raven will be of importance to both him and the organization. The tricky part, however, is that Suggs is among 10 unrestricted free agents on the Ravens' roster and keeping the Ravens in a really good salary cap position in 2019 and going forward is one of DeCosta's top goals in his first year as GM.
Among those URFA's is 2014 first-round draft pick C.J. Mosley, who the team is expecting to re-sign, and OLB Za'Darius Smith. The Ravens could also free up cap space by cutting safety Eric Weddle and cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr.
Without Suggs, the Ravens would be left with not only a gapping hole in a position that's been dominated for years, but without a veteran leader in a new era for the team. They of course could draft a defensive player at No. 22, like NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig has them doing, or there is free agency where Green Bay's Clay Matthews and Tennessee Titans' Derrick Morgan could be on the market.
At Suggs' age it'd be hard to expect a lucrative deal, but with or without the Ravens, he has no plan of stopping.
“It’s pretty much out of my hands," Suggs added. "Like I said, I would like to be a Raven for life. It might not happen that way. Unfortunately, we’ve had to see some Raven guys line up in other uniforms. I hope that’s not my case. If it is, so be it. I chose nothing. I’m a football player. I was born, and this is what I am. Like I said, I plan on lining up in 2019. So, hopefully it’s in the black and purple.”
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