Terrell Suggs has routinely talked about the hierarchy in the Ravens' locker room.
Throughout his 10 year career, the outspoken outside linebacker has always known where he ranked in regards to seniority. Ray Lewis was at the top, closely followed by Ed Reed, and Suggs took his cues from the two future Hall of Famers.
"He couldn't get through an interview without mentioning 'The General,'" Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti said at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix.
But now Lewis has retired and Reed is an unrestricted free agent, creating a void in the leadership department.
That leaves the 30-year-old Suggs as the next man in line, and the one Bisciotti expects to take charge of the defense.
"On defense, it's got to be Terrell Suggs," Bisciotti said when asked who he sees as the team's next leader. "There's one thing about Terrell that I admire more than anything. No. 1, he's continued to mature his entire career being here. And I was always impressed by the way he deferred to Ray all the time."
Suggs has a reputation amongst his teammates and in the media as a bit of a class clown. He's constantly cracking jokes with teammates and reporters, and he's not afraid to speak his mind, often generating bulletin board material.
But the five-time Pro Bowler and former Defensive Player of the Year also has the respect of his teammates and Bisciotti believes he's ready to take over the reins of leadership.
"By virtue of his patience and humility in that situation, I think that people might not know what a great leader he is," Bisciotti said.
In addition to Suggs, the Ravens have other veterans like defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Lardarius Webb who have elevated their stature on the team in recent years with stellar play and big contracts.
"I think that you'll probably see with he, Lardarius and Haloti, that we've got those leaders already on defense," Bisciotti said.
Head Coach John Harbaugh also thinks the three veterans will take over just as they did when Lewis went down twice in as many seasons with injuries.
"The good news is we've had some experience with that," Harbaugh said.
Offensively, the Ravens will also have to make up for the retirement of veteran center Matt Birk and wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Both players were reliable starters and two of the clear leaders on the roster.
To Biscoitti, the offensive leadership will fall on quarterback Joe Flacco, who just signed the richest contract in NFL history.
"I think our offense speaks for itself with Ray Rice and Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith," Bisciotti said. "These are great guys. Solid, solid citizens.
"They have been waiting for this opportunity. And I think they seized it right before our eyes."