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Suggs Could Forfeit Millions In Pay
Linebacker Terrell Suggs could lose millions of dollars in salary after tearing his Achilles tendon two weeks ago because the incident falls under the non-football injury provision of the collective bargaining agreement, according to ESPN.
Even though Suggs said he was injured while running a conditioning test, it still qualifies as a non-football injury because it happened away from a team’s facility or not under its direction.
As such, the Ravens could decide to withhold pay from Suggs, based on the following wording in the CBA: “A player who is placed on a Non-Football Injury or Illness list (“N-F/I”) is not entitled to any compensation under his contract while on such list …”
Suggs said he believes he can return by the middle of the season and Head Coach John Harbaugh said he is on board with that goal. If the Ravens decide to place him on the Non-Football Injury list and he misses seven games, blogger Jamison Hensley estimates the Ravens could save $2 million on his reported $4.9 million salary.
But just because the Ravens can dock Suggs’ paydoesn’t mean they should or will.
While they could save that $2 million and potentially put the money toward bringing in another player to help replace Suggs, they would risk alienating the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and sending a negative message to the locker room, says The Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel.
“[U]nder the rules of the locker room, the players would likely frown upon such a move against a respected teammate and leader,” added Hensley. “When a player has given this much to a team, its poor taste to reach for his wallet when he is injured. …While the Ravens have the authority to take money away, it would be shocking for them to actually do it.”
In an effort to keep Suggs content and focused on his rehab, Vensel reports the Ravens will “probably” put him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list instead of the Non-Football Injury list, which would mean he would miss at least six weeks of the season and would be paid his salary.
Where do the Ravens stand on the issue?
Team officials haven’t commented on the situation, and they may not have even discussed it amongst themselves. They don’t have to make a decision until the start of training camp and are currently concentrating on helping Suggs recover.
As of now, media believe the Ravens will not take any drastic action.
“[W]e reported weeks ago that the Ravens probably weren’t going to make a fuss about the Suggs injury, instead trying to make the most of the situation,” Vensel wrote. “If that changes, we will be sure to let you know.”
Salary-Cap Update: $1.502 Million
It’s been unclear how much salary-cap space the Ravens have after signing wide receiver and kick returner Jacoby Jones, and all eight draft picks and restructuring guard Marshal Yanda’s contract.
Per Wilson, only $1.8 million of Jones’ two-year, $7 million deal will count against the 2012 cap. Another $4.9 million will go against the 2013 cap and he’ll also receive a $1 million bonus next year.
Additionally, the Ravens spent a total of $22.78 million for their eight draft picks, which is $880,184 less than they are allowed to spend over the next four years, says Wilson.
Under Pressure: Dean Pees
The Raven under the most pressure heading into the 2012 season is up for debate.
As LFW reported yesterday, CBSSports.com’s Clark Judge believes it is rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw, because he could be asked to fill in for Suggs.
But Hensley argues the person being squeezed the most is the Ravens’ new defensive coordinator, Dean Pees.
Pees will be asked to continue a defensive legacy in Baltimore, where the unit has ranked in the top six in eight of the past nine years. And he’ll be asked to do it without Suggs, who is arguably the best player on the Ravens roster.
“[T]here’s tremendous pressure on new defensive coordinator Dean Pees to uphold the standard of excellence,” wrote Hensley. “His job became much more difficult when linebacker Terrell Suggs, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, tore his Achilles. He also faces the delicate situation of how to handle team leaders Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, both of whom showed their age toward the end of last season. Then, add in the season-ending stretch where Baltimore faces seven Pro Bowl quarterbacks in its final eight games (they also account for five Super Bowl rings).”
Pees follows in the footsteps of several coordinators who went on to become NFL head coaches – Marvin Lewis, Mike Nolan, Rex Ryan and Chuck Pagano – but this isn’t his first rodeo.
He has spent the last two years becoming familiar with Baltimore’s defense as the linebackers coach. Prior to that, he ran the New England Patriots defense for four years (2006-2009), the only unit in the NFL to finish in the top 10 in scoring defense each season.
“The Ravens may lack experience at the wide receiver position, but they certainly don’t lack depth. How much quality exists within that depth remains to be seen,” wrote Zrebiec. “The Ravens’ roster currently includes 13 wide receivers, but nine of them have never caught a pass in an NFL game.” [The Baltimore Sun]