Ravens linebacker Pernell McPhee sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the second quarter.
Ravens linebacker Pernell McPhee sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the second quarter. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

Pass rushers are valuable commodities in the NFL, creating serious earning power for players capable of hitting the quarterback on a regular basis.

Ravens outside linebacker Pernell McPhee has emerged as one of those players, recording a career-high 7.5 sacks this season. Now that McPhee's four-year, $2.184 million rookie contract has expired, he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.

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And McPhee figures to be one of the Ravens' more complicated free-agent decisions. A year ago, the Ravens declined to get into a bidding war to try to retain defensive tackle Arthur Jones and Jones wound up signing a five-year, $33 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

McPhee excelled on the field, remaining healthy all season. How the former Mississippi State standout will fit into the Ravens' budget when he could potentially cash in elsewhere makes what will happen next for McPhee an unpredictable financial exercise.

"Yes, I pray to God I'll be back," McPhee said. "I love Baltimore. That's the part of the business they handle. I just handle the business on the field."

Standing next to McPhee and listening to the conversation, veteran defensive end Chris Canty chimed in with his opinion about his teammate, saying loudly, "Pay the man!"

Cold, clear conditions

At kickoff, it was about 20 degrees with a wind chill of 10 degrees. The chilly temperatures were accompanied by 9 mph winds. Skies were clear, though, with no rain or snow.

To stay warm, players bundled up with extreme cold gear and ran around the field to stay loose. There were space heaters around the bench area for both sidelines.

End zone

With a half-sack, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has 12.5 career sacks in the playoffs to pass the late Reggie White (12 sacks) for the third-most sacks in NFL postseason history. …  Rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan was active after missing the wild-card round game with foot and ankle injuries and sacked Brady once. The Ravens scratched cornerback Chris Greenwood, center-guard Ryan Jensen, nose tackle Terrence Cody, defensive end DeAngelo Tyson, tight end Phillip Supernaw and defensive end Steven Means. … The Patriots deactivated former Ravens running back Jonas Gray (ankle), offensive lineman Cameron Fleming, former Ravens offensive tackle Jordan Devey, wide receiver Josh Boyce, tight end Steve Maneri, defensive lineman Zach Moore and running back James White.

awilson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/RavensInsider

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