OWINGS MILLS - Ed Reed's future with the Baltimore Ravens may be in doubt, but the 34-year old future Hall of Famer that's hinted at retirement each of the last two offseasons appears intent on playing next season regardless of whether he remains in Baltimore.
Three weeks after longtime teammate and fellow future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis announced that this season will be his "last ride," Reed was asked by a reporter Thursday whether this would be his "last ride."
"Nah, it's not my last ride," Reed said before cracking a smile and joking, "I just bought a bike."
He added: "I'll be playing next year if that's what you all are asking. Next question."
But it appears unlikely Reed will be back with the Ravens.
His contract expires at the end of the season and it's been speculated that Baltimore will opt to let Reed depart as a free agent.
The Ravens currently have in the range of $108 million committed to next year's salary cap that's expected to be in the range of $121 million and they several key players, even aside from Reed, that will be unrestricted free agents, including quarterback Joe Flacco, middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, outside linebacker Paul Kruger and cornerback Cary Williams.
Reed's the Ravens' all-time leader in interceptions. He's a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year. And he's been regarded as one of the premier defensive players in the NFL for much of the last decade.
But his physical skills have progressively diminished in recent years and he continues to battle through a nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder that he's dealt with for the past several seasons.
He did have four interceptions during this year's regular season, and he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the ninth time, but he's also had lapses in coverage that have led to big plays for opposing passing games, and his willingness as a tackler, or lack thereof at times, has repeatedly been called into question.