Safety Ed Reed's career won't end in purple and black.
After 11 seasons in Baltimore as one of the greatest ball hawks to ever play the game, Reed has agreed to terms on a new contact with the Houston Texans, according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora. The deal is reportedly for two years.
Neither the Texans or Ravens have confirmed the deal, and NFL Network's Albert Breer reports that Reed says “it’s close” and that "nothing's official, but unless something changes" he's going to Houston.
Reed, 34, and the Ravens had both publicly expressed a desire to remain married forever, but Houston lured him away with an aggressive courting campaign and finished it at the owners meetings.
Houston Texans General Manager Rick Smith flew to pick him up in Chairman & CEO Bob McNair's private jet Thursday morning. He spent two days in Houston talking with coaches and executives.
The safety left Houston without a deal, however, to mull over his decision.
Head Coach John Harbaugh, who exchanged texts messages with Reed, said he was "hopeful" that he would return to Baltimore. Owner Steve Bisciotti said he would be thrilled to have him back and that his gut told him he would return.
But in the end, the two sides did not come to an agreement.
Reed is the ninth player that started at least one game last year to depart Baltimore, including both starting safeties. Baltimore's defense has now lost Reed, linebacker Ray Lewis (retirement), safety Bernard Pollard, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and cornerback Cary Williams.
Reed is one of the most difficult.
"It's definitely [tough] when you've been around guys for so long and they've meant so much to the organization," Harbaugh said Tuesday, stressing the friendship he had forged with Reed.
"Ed is a first-ballot Hall of Fame safety, arguably the best safety that ever played. He's got to be the best ball-hawking safety that's ever played. And so, how do you part? It's just as difficult as parting with Ray [Lewis]."
The nine-time Pro Bowler and 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year had a long and storied career in Baltimore, one that will likely go down alongside Lewis as the most impactful in franchise history.
"It’s been a great ride," Reed told the Houston Chronicle after his visit. "The fan support has been truly amazing – a lot of love and a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
"It's definitely tough, but after 11 years, you pretty much understand things about the business. After leaving a program like Miami and being around the great people in Baltimore, I think the transition (to his next team) will be all right."
Reed notched 70 career interceptions as a Raven, including an all-time NFL record-tying nine in the playoffs. His 61 regular-season interceptions are the most in the league since he entered in 2002.
He was known just as much for returning the ball as he was for picking it off. Reed's 1,541 interception return yards are the most in NFL history (Hall of Famer Rod Woodson is second with 1,483). He has 14 career touchdowns and is the only player in league history to score touchdowns off a punt return, blocked punt, interception and fumble recovery.
An intense student of the game, Reed was well-respected by his teammates. He was a commander in the Ravens' secondary and affected many opposing game plans. Many quarterbacks spoke of having to know where Reed is at all times.
"He was a great leader," Harbaugh said. "Our relationship has just blossomed. It's been good, but this year with Ed especially, we really just got close. The leadership he brought to the team, through Ray's [triceps injury], was really fantastic."
Reed's career in Baltimore ended on the ultimate high note.
In his seventh trip to the playoffs, he finally reached the Super Bowl in his hometown of New Orleans. Reed intercepted San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the first pick against the 49ers franchise in its six Super Bowl appearances, to help pull off a 34-31 victory.
"I'm thrilled for Ed that he got his Super Bowl," Bisciotti said.
Perhaps no player on the Ravens showed their joy more than the often mercurial Reed, which gave hope to fans that he could finish with the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2002. Before free agency opened, he said, "I am a Raven, will be a Raven until otherwise."
But Reed isn't the same player he was a decade ago.
He admitted that he played more with his instincts and film study than speed. Injuries to his shoulder, hip and neck left him sometimes hesitant to lower hits and occasionally led to passive or missed tackles in the secondary. His injuries also made him mention retirement on more than one occasion the past few years.
But Reed's stats hadn't dropped off. He fought through nagging ailments to start every game the past two seasons. In last year's regular season, he logged 58 tackles (his highest total since 2006), four interceptions and a touchdown.
Now Reed goes to a Texans team that has been in the playoffs the past two years and was in need of a safety after Glover Quin bolted for the Detroit Lions.
Reed will join close friend and University of Miami teammate Andre Johnson, and he'll be close to his hometown New Orleans.
And with that, the man who sang "Two Tickets to Paradise" throughout the Ravens' playoff run has a new place to kick up his feet.