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News » Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-02-21

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-02-21

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-02-21
The Ravens made two key moves on defense, cutting long-time cornerback Chris McAlister and placing the franchise tag on linebacker-defensive end Terrell Suggs.

It's the second straight year that the Ravens have tagged Suggs, who will be tendered a one-year, $10.2 million contract.

"This is news to me," Suggs said after being franchised. "I didn't know. Last year they called me when they franchised me, and I expected the same thing this year. There is nothing I can really do about it."

When asked whether he was angry or whether the Ravens might eventually sign him to a long-term deal, Suggs said: "We'll wait and see. I'm at the airport and on a plane from Arizona back to Baltimore. Right now, I have nothing to say. Maybe this will all hit me tomorrow."

The sides have until July 15 to reach a new deal. The market for pass rushers could be set if the Dallas Cowboys sign DeMarcus Ware, who led the NFL with 20 sacks last season, to an extension.

"Our plan is to sign 'Sizzle' to a long-term contract," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "We believe our history of keeping our best players for a long time speaks for itself."

There was little acrimony when the Ravens used the tag on Suggs last season.

The sides even settled on a new designation for the tag, "a hybrid defensive end-linebacker," before reaching arbitration. It allowed Suggs to get paid more than a franchise linebacker but less than a defensive end.

He then attended some meetings during offseason workouts and reported back to play in the final two preseason games, which gave him enough time to get ready for the regular-season opener.

Suggs, 26, went to his third Pro Bowl this season after leading the Ravens with eight sacks. He finished third on the team with a career-best 102 tackles.

"He's a very productive player and a young player," Newsome said. "We still think he can still get better as he continues to understand our system."

Meanwhile, the Ravens cut former Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister, a move that freed up $8 million in salary-cap space.

This could help the team sign four other starters (linebackers Ray Lewis and Bart Scott, center Jason Brown and safety Jim Leonhard) who are pending free agents.

"All of us who had the opportunity to coach Chris for the first time this season have an appreciation for all the good things he did for this team through the years," coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. "He'll be remembered by us and the fans as one of the best to ever play for the Ravens. He's a tough guy and loves football. He'll play again, and he'll play well."

McAlister, a first-round draft pick by the Ravens in 1999, made the Pro Bowl three times (2003, 2004 and 2006).

But he struggled with a knee injury for the second straight season and never seemed to earn the trust of the new coaching staff.

He got burned for two touchdowns at Indianapolis in Week 6 and got benched the next game. Although there were rumors of discipline problems, Harbaugh said the decision to pull McAlister from the starting lineup was based on performance.

A week after being benched, McAlister was inactive for three weeks before being placed on injured reserve. Unlike other players on injured reserve, McAlister never rejoined the team, even during the playoff run.

McAlister became expendable when Fabian Washington replaced him in the starting lineup and the Ravens still finished second in pass defense. The Ravens are expected to start Washington and Samari Rolle at cornerback next season.

The team will bring back Frank Walker for depth and could add a cornerback either through free agency or the draft.

"First, we want to thank Chris for all he did for the Ravens in the past 10 years," Newsome said. "He was a major contributor to many big wins, including the Super Bowl. To play the type of defense we have used here, you have to have corners who can cover one-on-one. He was one of the best at that for us. He was physical, and he could run with the best."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 21, 2009

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Amon Gordon Name: Amon Gordon
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