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A look at the Ravens' options for handling Suggs' salary

Nearly two weeks ago, when it was revealed that Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had sustained a season-threatening tear of his Achilles tendon while training in Arizona, we reported that the Ravens could, theoretically, put Suggs on the non-football injury list if he was injured while working out away from the team’s facility. By doing so, they could get off the hook for some or all of the linebacker’s 2012 base salary.

But in the same news story, we also wrote that it was unlikely that the Ravens would go that route.

Jeff Zrebiec, The Sun's Ravens beat reporter, just reported that the Ravens have not had any internal discussion to this point about docking Suggs' pay after non-football injury, but that could always change. The priority for the Ravens at this point, is to get Suggs healthy.

Why wouldn’t the Ravens try to recoup some of his salary, especially since they are now missing their top pass rusher and have fewer than $2 million in salary cap space left to make a move? For one, they would run the risk of alienating themselves from the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year in Suggs, who has become one of the team’s vocal leaders. And two, think of the message it would send to the rest of the locker room.

Additionally, Suggs said he is shooting for a midseason return, a timetable that Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he is on board with. That makes it even less likely they will take action, since they will want Suggs focused and content as he rehabilitates his injury. Assuming Suggs isn’t ahead of schedule with his rehab, the Ravens will probably put him on the physically able to perform (PUP) list for the first six weeks of the season and go from there.

The Ravens do not comment on negotiations with players, so any talk about their options is purely speculation. But if they were to take action -- say, for example, they learned that, as reported elsewhere, Suggs was playing basketball when he got hurt, something he has denied  -- let’s take a quick look at how the process works.

The collective bargaining agreement states that "a player who is placed on a non-football injury or illness list is not entitled to any compensation under his contract while on such list.” If the Ravens were to place Suggs on that list, Suggs could fight it. But if it was deemed that Suggs violated his contract by working out away from the team facility, his salary could be docked, giving the Ravens the wiggle room to maybe add a replacement.

So if Suggs was put on the non-football injury list and the Ravens signed Player X to a contract with a 2012 base salary of $2 million, that $2 million could then be taken out of Suggs’ base salary, which is $4.9 million.

Like I wrote above, we reported weeks ago that the Ravens probably weren’t going to make a fuss about the Suggs injury, instead trying to make the most of the situation. If that changes, we will be sure to let you know.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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