By Jeff Zrebiec The Baltimore Sun
A couple days before the start of the 2013 season, rush linebacker Terrell Suggs acknowledged how much it would mean to him to play his entire career with the Baltimore Ravens.
It still isn’t certain that will happen, but Suggs’ new four-year deal, which became official when he signed the contract Monday morning, makes that significantly more likely than it appeared earlier this offseason.
“I’m truly honored that I get to be a Raven for life,” Suggs said in a news conference at the team facility, where the extension was announced.
The deal is worth $28.5 million and includes an $11 million signing bonus, according to a source. The contract includes $16 million in guaranteed money, the source said.
The contract lowers Suggs’ $12.4 million salary cap figure for the 2014 season to $7.8 million and give the Ravens much needed flexibility under the cap. The Ravens are now roughly $16.5 million under a projected NFL salary cap limit of $126.3 million.
“This gives Terrell an opportunity to continue to play football in Baltimore,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said, also acknowledging that Suggs’ new deal “helps” the team cap-wise.
In the coming days, the Ravens are hoping to re-sign several of their unrestricted free agents, including tight end Dennis Pitta, left tackle Eugene Monroe and middle linebacker Daryl Smith. They also have numerous other holes to fill on their roster.
But before they addressed any of that, they wanted to make sure that Suggs, the organization’s longest-tenured player, continued to be part of the nucleus that team officials hope will get the team back in the playoffs after a one-year absence.
“The No. 1 priority for everybody else in this building is to win,” Suggs said. “This is the business side of it.”
Suggs, who was entering the final year of a six-year, $62.5 million contract, was willing to compromise, valuing a little more long-term security and a chance to remain with the only NFL organization that he’s ever known.
A first-round pick in the 2003 draft, Suggs, 31, has played 11 seasons with the Ravens and he’s their all-time leader in sacks (94.5) and forced fumbles (27). He ranks second in fumble recoveries and tackles.
In his first full season since tearing his Achilles, Suggs finished the 2013 campaign with 10 sacks, though only one of them came in the Ravens’ final eight games.
His late-season struggles intensified the questions about his future in Baltimore — questions that were put to rest by Monday’s announcement.
Suggs will have a $1 million base salary for this season for a total compensation of $12 million, including his $11 million signing bonus.
Suggs has the following base salaries and corresponding salary-cap figures after next season: $4 million base salary in 2015, $6.2 million salary-cap figure; $4.5 million base salary in 2016, $6.6 million salary-cap figure; $4 million base salary in 2017, $6.2 million salary cap figure; $4 million base salary in 2018, $6.2 million salary cap figure.