OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — As a 20-year-old fresh out of college, Terrell Suggs never intended to spend his entire NFL career with one team.
Now the Pro Bowl linebacker embraces the idea of going the distance as a Baltimore Raven.
Suggs signed a four-year extension Monday that saves the Ravens salary cap room and puts Suggs in position to finish his career in Baltimore.
“That’s the plan,” Suggs said. “Sizzle will be a Raven for life.”
Suggs, 31, signed a six-year deal in 2009 that expired after the 2014 season. Now he’s signed through 2018. He was expected to count $12.4 million against the salary cap. With his new deal, that figure becomes a far more manageable $7.8 million.
“It allows us to have the opportunity to pursue some of our own guys but also be prepared when free agency opens,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said at a news conference to announce the deal.
Drafted out of Arizona State in 2003, Suggs’ lone objective was to make his mark on the NFL — whether it be with Baltimore or some other team.
“At the beginning, I was just like, `I’m going to go in here and I’m going to take the league over,”‘ the 11-year veteran recalled. “Young, stupid, arrogant. I was quickly humbled. (Now) I don’t want to go anywhere else. This city loves me.”
That’s how it was with Ray Lewis, a sensational linebacker who spent his entire career in Baltimore before retiring after the 2012 season.
“I’ve learned the value of the word legacy and being on one team and in one uniform your whole career,” Suggs said. “You learn about priorities when you play with a man like that.”
Suggs earned his sixth Pro Bowl invite in 2013. He is the franchise leader with 94 1/2 sacks, ranks second in tackles behind Lewis and is first in forced fumbles.
Not only that, but Suggs showed his prowess as a team player by working out a deal that saves the Ravens plenty of cap space.
“The No. 1 priority for myself, Ozzie and everybody in this building is to win,” he said. “How do we win? This is the business side of it, where we needed to help bring in guys.”
Newsome said the sides began talking about an extension around two weeks earlier, and an agreement was put into place this past weekend. Suggs signed the pact on Monday morning, and by the afternoon he was still bubbling over with excitement.
“I’m really honored that I do get the opportunity to finish my career here where I started it,” Suggs said. “It’s just a really great day for me. I’m honored that I get to be a Raven for life.”
Newsome said he’s already discussed extensions with other players and has started the process of trying to retain some of the team’s younger stars.
“We’ve engaged in discussions with several of our players,” Newsome said. “With the (scouting) combine coming up, the majority of agents will be there and we will be there. I’m sure we’ll have more talks.”
Suggs, meanwhile, can now turn his full attention toward the 2014 season after leading the Ravens with 10 sacks in 2013.
“I don’t have to worry about where I’ll be playing football next year and my training, so I can be the best player that I’m accustomed to being for my team,” he said. “I want to see if there’s another level I can hit. Yes, you can expect some Sizzle next year.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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