Will he or won't he? What's a Ravens offseason without some drama surrounding Ed Reed's future?
Hours after general manager Ozzie Newsome reiterated that the team expects Reed to be its starting free safety in 2012, the enigmatic future Hall of Famer said in a Wednesday night interview on 105.7 The Fan that he feels disrespected by the Ravens -- enough to make him question playing this season.
"I plan on playing. Everybody in the world knows that plans tend to change," said Reed, who is in the final year of his contract. "I've got some unfinished business. I got a lot on my mind I've been thinking about and the truth of the matter is that it's about respect. It's about getting respect and it's a business."
Discussing what he perceives as a lack of loyalty in the NFL, Reed brought up the Indianapolis Colts cutting Peyton Manning and the San Francisco 49ers doing the same with Joe Montana years ago. He also said money equals respect, and after hearing him say that he isn't getting enough respect from the Ravens, it's not difficult to see what Reed, who will make $7.2 million in 2012, is really hinting at here.
He said the team discussed a contract extension with him last offseason and that both sides "know it's there," referring to the possibility of reaching an extension that could free up cap space this offseason. At Wednesday's annual draft luncheon, Newsome said that he hadn't spoken with Reed since the team's loss in the AFC championship game. But the Ravens are counting on him to play this season.
(It's worth noting that earlier in the interview Reed said he wanted to do a free autograph session for Ravens fans "before the season.")
Reed said he is open to discussing a contract extension to "help the team" free up salary cap space, but he didn't say specifically how much money would buy enough respect to convince him to play. He did mention the five-year, $96 million contract the Denver Broncos gave Manning last month. He acknowledged that each position is valued differently, but he clearly feels he is an exception at safety.
"For what I offer on the football field, for what I give on the football field and for what they know they're going to get, it's much more than these young guys out here today and what they're getting," the 33-year-old said. "And I'm talking at any every defensive back position right now, not just safety."
Reed picked off three passes and made 52 tackles last season, but was criticized for missing tackles, something he bristled when asked about Wednesday. He has been selected to six straight Pro Bowls.
Last week, Reed made some interesting comments down in Florida, where he was inducted into the University of Miami's Hall of Fame. He told The Miami Sun-Sentinel that he wants to play four or five more years, but that he wasn't 100 percent sure if he would play in 2012. He also said that his home is in Baltimore "unless they say otherwise." And now he is talking about being disrespected.
"When I'm on the football field, I'm giving you everything," Reed said. "Do the Ravens know that? Yes they do. Did Ozzie know that Ed Reed was going to be playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers regardless of negotiating his contract? Yes he did. Did Ed get the respect that he deserves? No he did not. Am I going to get it? Probably won't. Hopefully he do. If I don't, then, hey man, I'm alright with me."