Back in February, new Baltimore Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta vowed that the team under his guidance would do a better job of retaining its young talent—and its talent overall. Apparently he meant more marginal talents, as the team went on to make Tavon Young the highest-paid nickel back and signed blocking tight end Nick Boyle to a three-year contract worth $18 million.
Meanwhile, they released Eric Weddle after saying they wanted to retain him, and also saw C.J. Mosley, Za’Darius Smith, and Terrell Suggs sign elsewhere. All linebackers that the team drafted and developed themselves. Wide receiver John Brown also signed elsewhere in free agency.
It should look pretty good in their compensatory reckoning, once again, but the defense certainly got a lot worse, and also lost its leadership. Not just with Mosley and with Weddle but especially with Suggs, who had been there for the better part of two decades.
The former Defensive Player of the Year chose to sign with the Arizona Cardinals in free agency. In his introductory press conference with his new team, he told reporters that the Ravens extended him a “handsome offer”, but in spite of that, he made the decision to move on after 16 years.
“It was just time. That organization, that team is very special and dear to me, but so is the Valley of the Sun. It feels good to be wearing Cardinal red now”, he said. Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh also told reporters that the long-time Raven signed with Arizona for family reasons.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t see his old team again, as the Ravens and Cardinals will play each other in 2019. For obvious reasons, it’s the only team that Suggs has never faced over his 16-year career.
The linebacker did say that it was “very difficult” to leave Baltimore, but added—when prompted—that the team’s offseason moves so far this year, which included cutting Weddle and losing Mosley, contributed a bit to his decision as well.
“After weighing my options and everything that happened, I just felt like it was time to turn the page, and here we are”, he said. He also said that there were a few teams with whom he was in conversation other than the Ravens and Cardinals, but it came down to those two teams, and he waited until the “last hour” to make his decision.
Harbaugh said that he “didn’t see that one coming” when he learned of Suggs’ decision, making it clear that the team fully intended and expected to hold on to him. So they have lost two of their top three outside linebackers in the same free agency class, retaining Matthew Judon as well as third-year rushers Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser.