The Houston Texans are just a couple of months into their association with Ed Reed, and they're already not quite sure what is up with the Ravens' former safety.
Everything was great when they signed him to a three-year, $15 million deal during free agency, but then earlier this month it was revealed Reed has undergone surgery to repair a hip labrum and will sit out all Organized Team Activities and minicamps. Reed was rehabbing in Denver when the Texans opened OTAs Monday.
Hs absence is causing consternation in Houston, as you might expect, but Reed didn't exactly win the offseason perfect attendance award in Baltimore, either. He usually came to the Ravens' lone mandatory minicamp each year, and actually didn't even make that one in 2012. The Ravens didn't seem to care much. Reed kept himself in terrific shape and was always ready when the season opened. Honestly, what was he going to get out of a minicamp that he didn't already know?
Of course, the Texans aren't really concerned about him missing OTAs; they just want him to be ready when the season begins. Their head coach, Gary Kubiak, told reporters Monday, at the start of OTAs, that Reed was doing "great."
Reed's surprising surgery has spawned a predictable round of online hyperventilating about whether the Texans knew he was injured, whether the Ravens knew he was injured, and whether Reed was honest about it during free agency. It's conspiracy theory heaven and I'm not about to get into it.
What I do know is this is precisely why the Ravens were skeptical enough about bringing him back to let him leave when the Texans made him a nice offer.
Reed turns 35 in September. He is one of the greatest safeties ever, a future Hall of Famer, and still brings plenty to the table on the field, but he is dealing with myriad injuries and his best football is behind him. It would have been terrific to see him end his career where it should, in Baltimore, and I thought he would after the Ravens won the Super Bowl, but I can't blame the Ravens for electing to go younger and healthier on the back end of their defense.
The fact that he is now dealing with another hip injury – reportedly not the hip that also needed a labrum repair in 2010 – underscores the validity of their decision.
With Reed, as with all players, the Ravens constantly weighed the positives against the drawbacks. It was a no-brainer for the most part. While they didn't always know where he was coming from and occasionally found his independence annoying, he was a brilliant player, the consummate pro and a locker room force … way more than worth whatever minor headaches he brought.
But nothing is ever thus, and the balance changed as his injuries mounted and his tackling fell off.
My guess is Reed will still have the chance to show that the Ravens were wrong to decide against retaining him. I expect him to be ready when the season opens, provided his injury isn't more serious than is being reported. He is a fierce rehabber with a ton of pride. Like Ray Lewis, he doesn't want an injury to usher him to the exit. I will be surprised if he isn't on the field at M&T Bank Stadium when the Texans visit on Sept. 22.
But regardless of what happens that day, the uncertainty is what the Ravens were ready to move beyond. It's a familiar storyline around here. The offseason was always kind of vague with Reed. Volleys of negative speculation tended to get tossed around. It was all forgotten once the season began and Reed demonstrated he was ready to go, but will that always be the case as the years pile up?
Wanting a nucleus that could compete for several years instead of just in 2013, the Ravens finally decided it was time to let someone else worry about the answer to that question. My guess is they're even more OK with that now.