This offseason so far has been a time of change for the Baltimore Ravens. It started with the planned succession of Eric DeCosta assuming the general manager duties from Ozzie Newsome, who remains with the organization in an as-yet-unnamed position. So far, DeCosta’s defense seems to be vanishing, and he’s played a role in that.
While he praised safety Eric Weddle, basically saying that he shows what it means to be a Raven, he evidently felt that the team had seen enough of him as a Raven, as they chose to release him in the final year of his deal.
Now Terrell Suggs, pretty much the face of the franchise at this point, is reportedly going to sign a contract with the Arizona Cardinals—meanwhile, C.J. Mosley, the five-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowler at inside linebacker, is likely preparing to become the highest-paid player ever at his position, in another city.
That is a lot of leadership exiting the top-ranked defense. And you lose a lot of your identity and personality when you lose a player like Suggs, who helped define that identity in Baltimore for the better part of two decades.
After Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Suggs also became the face of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rivalry with the Ravens, a player who often came up big in games against the AFC North rivals, even if Baltimore didn’t always manage to come out on top of things.
Nobody has sacked Ben Roethlisberger more than Suggs. And there is nobody that Suggs has sacked more than Roethlisberger. That kind of happens when you have 15 years’ worth of two games per season, plus a few playoff appearances.
But over the course of that time, and through the hits, hurries, and takedowns, there was a mutual respect formed that may persist beyond their playing days. The ‘good’ news is that, even though he is heading to an NFC team, the NFC West is on the schedule for the AFC North this year.
Perhaps 2019 will be the one final farewell for the Roethlisberger vs Suggs skirmish that we have come to appreciate over the years. The two have had some great battles, even individually. Some call a throwaway by Roethlisberger on which he avoided a Suggs sack one of the greatest plays the quarterback ever made.
Roethlisberger will certainly be a Hall of Famer. I think Suggs will be too, even if he might have to wait. He does have the Super Bowl ring. He has the Defensive MVP. He currently leads all active players in sacks and is tied for 13th all-time. With a 10-sack season, he could pass Michael Strahan for sixth all-time. everybody in the top 10 currently who is eligible is in the Hall of Fame, and the two who are not—Julius Peppers and DeMarcus Ware—will be as well.