OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- When I asked Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome whether Terrell Suggs would definitely be back next season, it was like Newsome was speaking directly to the six-time Pro Bowl linebacker.
Here was the message: Suggs should consider a contract extension or he could end up on another team like Anquan Boldin.
Newsome's noncommittal response in regard to Suggs' future was the biggest headline to come from the "State of the Ravens" news conference Wednesday. The Ravens are going to play hardball with their players again, and Suggs shouldn't think this is a hollow threat. Not only did the Ravens trade Boldin last year, they also let safety Ed Reed -- the third-best player in team history -- go elsewhere because they refused to overpay for him.
If I were Suggs, I wouldn't test the Ravens to see if they're bluffing. The Ravens have every right to approach Suggs about reworking his deal. Baltimore paid Suggs $6.4 million this year and got only half of their money's worth.
Suggs came to training camp in the best shape of his career. It showed when he had nine sacks in his first eight games. But he picked up weight in the second half of the season (which is why he had a reduced number of snaps), and that was reflected in his play. Suggs recorded 20 tackles and one sack in his final eight games.
Team officials indicated that Suggs will be a topic of discussion next week, when they meet at owner Steve Bisciotti's home to address personnel moves. But the Ravens gave the strong impression that they don't want Suggs at his current $12.4 million salary-cap number. You can lump defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (with a $16 million cap number) in this group as well.
“We have guys that are heading into the last year of their contract," Newsome said. "We have a history of being able to get good deals done with guys heading into that last year. I don’t think we’ll embark on doing any more restructuring, but we will probably look at doing some extensions.”
The decision for Suggs and Ngata is whether they want to retire with the Ravens. Suggs, 31, will be a free agent at the end of the 2014 season, and Ngata, 29, will enter the final year of his contract in 2015.
So does Suggs want to be a Raven for life like Ray Lewis? Or does he want to end his career elsewhere like Reed and Boldin?
My guess is that Suggs, who idolized Lewis, will want the same storybook ending and sign a contract extension with the Ravens.