NEW ORLEANS - Ed Reed wants to be back with the Baltimore Ravens. Head coach John Harbaugh wants Reed back with the Ravens. And now, it's just a matter of making it happen.
Reed is one several key players from the Ravens' Super Bowl winning team set to become an unrestricted free agent. And considering the fact Baltimore's expected to have limited room under the salary cap, as well as the fact it also has players like quarterback Joe Flacco and inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe that, like Reed, are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, it's been viewed as relatively unlikely that Reed would be back with the Ravens after this season.
But Harbaugh said he had a conversation with Reed following Baltimore's Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers and expressed a desire for the Ravens to find a way to keep Reed in Baltimore.
"We had that conversation [Sunday] on the bus ride away from the stadium actually," Harbaugh said. "[Ed] and I both agreed that we want him back. I want him back, and Ed wants to come back. Like Joe [Flacco] says, you never know how these things are going to work out, but we are going to work like crazy to work it out, because Ed's a Baltimore Raven, and hopefully we can make that happen."
Reed's a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year and is regarded as one of the top safeties in NFL history, but he'll be 35 in September and he's admittedly not the same player he once was from a physical standpoint.
His once famed range has diminished, and his willingness as a tackler, or lack thereof at times, has been questioned in recent seasons as he's dealt with a painful nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder.
Reed did, however, tie for the team-lead with four interceptions during the regular season. He also ranked second on the team in pass deflections (16). And while he was relatively non-impactful in Baltimore's first three games this postseason, he had an interception during the second quarter of the Super Bowl Sunday night.
The interception was the ninth of Reed's career during the postseason, tied for the most of any player during the playoffs in NFL history.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome told the NFL Network last week that he planned to talk to Reed at some point shortly following the conclusion of the season.
"I'm going to sit down and talk with Ed once it's all said and done," Newsome told the NFL Network last Tuesday. "I know he's totally focused on winning this game in his hometown. But then, once the air clears, Ed and I have gotten to a point where he and I can really talk man-to-man, and I think we'll be able to have that conversation a week or two from now."
RECORD-SETTING SUPER BOWL: Seven Super Bowl records were broken during Sunday's Super Bowl between the Ravens and 49ers.
Most all-purpose yards by a single player: 290, Jacoby Jones
Longest play: 108-yard kickoff return, Jacoby Jones
Longest kickoff return: 108 yards, Jacoby Jones
Longest kickoff return for a touchdown: 108 yards, Jacoby Jones
Longest touchdown run by a quarterback: 15 yards, Colin Kaepernick
Most combined kickoff return yards: 312 (Baltimore 206, San Francisco 106)
Longest time of game: 4:14
And the Super Bowl records that were tied Sunday night:
Most touchdowns on plays of 50 yards or more: 2, Jacoby Jones
Most receiving yards by a tight end: 104, Vernon Davis
Most kickoff returns for a touchdown: 1, Jacoby Jones
Most safeties: 1, Chris Culliver
Most kickoff returns for a touchdown by a single team: 1, Baltimore
Most safeties for a single team: 1, San Francisco
Most players on a team with 100 yards or more receiving: 2, San Francisco (Michael Crabtree 109, Vernon Davis 104)
Most combined points during the third quarter: 24 (San Francisco 17, Baltimore 7)
Most combined field goals: 5 (San Francisco 3, Baltimore 2)
Most combined field goals without a miss: 5 (San Francisco 3, Baltimore 2)
Fewest rushing touchdowns by a team: 0, Baltimore
SPRINGBOARD FOR SMITH: Ravens much-maligned second-year cornerback Jimmy Smith came up with two key plays in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter Sunday night to help Baltimore hold the 49ers without a go-ahead touchdown and all but seal a Ravens victory.
San Francisco, trailing 34-29, worked the ball to Baltimore's 5-yard line with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. But Smith laid a hit on 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree to prevent a short completion on third-and-goal from the 5-yard line. And then on fourth down, on what proved to be the game's decisive play, Smith had tight coverage on Crabtree to help force an overthrow from San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The incompletion resulted in a turnover on downs, and San Francisco's offense never got the ball back.
Smith had been serving as the Ravens' nickel back since taking over the role from Chykie Brown during Baltimore's win over the New England Patriots in the AFC championship.
Smith had previously seen only limited playing time in the weeks since returning from the sports hernia surgery that sidelined him for five games during the latter part of the regular season.
Smith was the Ravens' first round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, but he'd underachieved during his first season-plus in the NFL and then was then limited by the injury.
Harbaugh, though, said Monday that he believes Smith's performance in the Super Bowl will be a "springboard" for the cornerback going forward.
"I think he made the two plays at the end of the game to win the game," Harbaugh said. "He played great. Jimmy has been practicing very well. He finally got healthy at the end the year there. He was at his best the last couple weeks. Jimmy is going to be, like we said all along, a great player in this league. I love him. He is really special."
Reach staff writer Matt Zenitz at 410-857-7896 or firstname.lastname@example.org.