The Kansas City Chiefs have reportedly claimed linebacker Terrell Suggs via waivers, ending speculation that the Ravens’ all-time leader in games played would return to Baltimore for a final push toward another Super Bowl title.
Suggs, 37, was released last week by the Arizona Cardinals, the team that signed Suggs as a free agent this past spring. Speculation immediately grew that Suggs would return to Baltimore to finish his 17th NFL season.
But because the release occurred after the trading deadline, Suggs was subject to waivers, and because the Ravens (12-2) have the best record in the NFL, they were last in the waiver claiming order.
ESPN recently reported that Suggs would consider retiring rather than reporting to any team that claimed him other than the Ravens, and it’s unclear what Suggs’ immediate plans are. But by making a claim for him, the Chiefs now retain his rights, so a reunion in Baltimore won’t be happening.
Suggs, the Ravens’ first pick in the 2003 draft (No. 10 overall), spent his first 16 seasons as a Raven and is the franchise all-time leader in games played with 229 (one more than Ray Lewis). He holds the franchise record for career sacks at 132.5 — more than 50 more than any other player in Ravens history.
The Ravens hoped to re-sign Suggs this past spring, and owner Steve Bisciotti expressed surprise that it didn’t happen. Suggs, an Arizona native and former Arizona State star who frequently spent his offseasons in Arizona throughout his Ravens career, instead signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals worth a reported $10 million.
At the time, he expressed an interest in playing for his hometown team.
Suggs had a pair of sacks in his first game as a Cardinal, but he had just 0.5 sacks of his final six games before his release. For the season, Suggs has 37 tackles and 5.5 sacks, increasing his career total to 138 sacks, the most among any active player and ninth-most in NFL history.
Suggs is still considered a solid edge-setting run defender, and the Ravens’ defense has struggled at times against the run this year, particularly on the perimeter. Suggs presumably would have shared duties with linebackers Tyus Bowser and rookie Jaylon Ferguson.
Suggs’ departure this past spring was one of several that reshaped the Ravens’ defense and locker room, with fellow Pro Bowl picks C.J. Mosley and Eric Weddle departing, along with Za’Darius Smith and Brent Urban.
The Ravens’ defense struggled mightily early in the year, giving up 500 yards in back-to-back games — a franchise first — in consecutive losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns. But several midseason acquisitions, such as linebacker Josh Bynes, linebacker L.J. Fort, cornerback Marcus Peters and defensive lineman Domata Peko, stabilized the defense.
Meanwhile, quarterback Lamar Jackson has emerged as a league Most Valuable Player front-runner, leading the Ravens to a franchise regular-season record 10 straight wins entering their Week 16 matchup at Cleveland.
Jackson has thrown a league-best 33 touchdown passes and has rushed for 1,103 yards, breaking Michael Vick’s NFL record for single-season rushing yardage by a quarterback. (Vick rushed for 1,039 yards in 2006.)
The locker room has also been transformed, with Jackson, running back Mark Ingram, safety Earl Thomas and linebacker Matthew Judon emerging as team leaders in the wake of the departures of Suggs, Weddle, Mosley and quarterback Joe Flacco, among others.
If the Ravens win at Cleveland Dec. 22, they will clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the first time in franchise history.
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