OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Terrell Suggs turned a free agent for the primary time in his 16-year NFL profession, though nobody actually believed the seven-time Professional Bowl exterior linebacker was going elsewhere.
Suggs idolized Ray Lewis and spoke usually about how he needed to hitch him as a “Raven for all times.” He talked about how the Ravens’ DNA was in his blood.
So think about the surprised faces when Suggs referred to as members of the Ravens group Monday to tell them that he was signing with one other crew.
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“I’m speechless,” a Ravens official mentioned.
Suggs was as a lot part of the Ravens’ storied defensive custom as Lewis and Ed Reed. One of the best ways to place it’s this: Lewis was the guts, Reed was the soul and Suggs was the humorous bone.
The largest character in crew historical past, Suggs grew together with the franchise, taking part in in 16 of the Ravens’ 23 years of existence. He went from being a pass-rush specialist as a rookie to the 2011 NFL Defensive Participant of the Yr. He went from being the locker room’s class clown to being the final one to talk to the gamers after pregame warm-ups.
The Ravens will miss Eric Weddle’s management, and there might be a void if C.J. Mosley and Za’Darius Smith depart for giant offers. However nobody’s departure might be as painful this offseason as Suggs’.
Although Suggs is not the identical constant menace to quarterbacks nowadays, his exit alerts the tip of an period. Solely two defensive gamers in NFL historical past (Redskins cornerback Darrell Inexperienced and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis) have been with one crew longer, in accordance with ESPN Stats & Data.
Terrell Suggs was a seven-time Professional Bowler in his 16 seasons with the Ravens. Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire
Suggs was the franchise’s most dominant pass-rusher with 132.5 sacks, that are practically double the variety of the next-closest participant (Peter Boulware had 70). He was the final starter remaining from the protection on the 2012 Tremendous Bowl crew. He was clutch when it mattered probably the most with the third-most sacks in NFL playoff historical past (12.5) and maybe probably the most uncommon turnover.
Suggs’ greatest play got here within the 2014 AFC wild-card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers wherein he picked off Ben Roethlisberger and held on to the interception by pinning the ball between his legs whereas falling to the bottom.
“You may by no means see a higher catch,” coach John Harbaugh mentioned after the sport. “We simply gave him the sport ball for the best catch within the historical past of soccer.”
When Suggs took over because the face of the protection, he did so with a smirk. Suggs routinely hijacked proprietor Steve Bisciotti’s golf cart and rode it throughout the fields earlier than the beginning of apply, crashing it into the blocking dummies. He may at all times be heard on the sphere whether or not it was ribbing a teammate or singing the “Titanic” theme music.
Suggs’ one-liners are simply as memorable as his game-changing performs. In 2005, the Ravens have been flagged for a team-record 21 penalties and Suggs was thrown out of the sport by referee Mike Carey, who mentioned the seven-time Professional Bowl participant had “malice in his coronary heart.” Suggs later mentioned, “How can I’ve malice in my coronary heart after I do not even know what malice means?” After a 2011 season-opening win in Pittsburgh, Suggs mentioned of Ben Roethlisberger, “God can have his soul, however his ass belongs to me.”
Few gamers cherished the rivalry with the Steelers greater than Suggs, who as soon as wore a T-shirt that featured a purple raven flipping the chicken and the phrases “Hey Pittsburgh.” Earlier than the 2008 AFC Championship Recreation in Pittsburgh, Suggs needed to play up an harm and put a brace on his shoulder. However a public relations employees member needed to cease him earlier than he stepped in entrance of reporters as a result of he was sporting the harness on the fallacious shoulder.
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Suggs was the definition of sturdiness, taking part in in additional video games than another Ravens participant (229). The one occasions he missed video games have been for Achilles accidents (two of them) and a torn biceps.
“I’ve Raven in my DNA,” Suggs as soon as mentioned. “I solely know one approach to play.”
The Ravens have been a cellphone name away from by no means drafting Suggs. In 2003, Baltimore tried to maneuver up three spots to No. 7 to pick quarterback Byron Leftwich. However the Jacksonville Jaguars tied up the league’s cellphone traces, so the Ravens’ commerce with the Minnesota Vikings could not be accomplished. The Jaguars ended up with Leftwich, and Baltimore “settled” with Suggs.
The remaining is Ravens historical past.
“Plenty of guys, earlier than they’re performed, get to play on two and three groups. To have the chance to play for one group, it simply goes to point out the sort of group we have now, and it’s very flattering,” Suggs mentioned at coaching camp eight months in the past. “We’ve seen lots of Ravens that may at all times be referred to as Ravens not have the chance to complete their profession right here. I plan on being a Raven so long as I’m taking part in soccer.”
This did not wind up being the farewell for Suggs and the Ravens, regardless that each side expressed a want to have Suggs end his profession in Baltimore. Suggs will not play his total profession for the Ravens like Lewis did. He’ll placed on one other uniform in his ultimate seasons like Reed.
However Suggs’ legacy will stay.
Stated defensive sort out Brandon Williams: “He’s just about the blueprint of what a Raven is.”