Ozzie Newsome opening statement:
"Good afternoon. Thanks for coming. Over the weekend, with the work of Pat [Moriarty, the Ravens' senior vice president of football administration] and [Terrell] Suggs' agent [Joel Segal], we were able to come to an agreement on a four-year extension for Terrell. Within the last hour, he signed the contract. This gives Terrell the opportunity to continue to play football here in Baltimore. 2014 was the last year [of his most-recent contract]. Hopefully, he'll continue to play really good football for us. Really briefly, before I turn it over to Terrell, is that over the past week or so – with the draft and with free agency – I've had the opportunity to go back and just watch some players. A lot of time when we watch players, we like to see how they play against our team. While doing that, I gained a new appreciation for how Terrell affects offenses when they come to Baltimore or when we play on the road. He affects them in the passing game as well as the running game. It was something that jumped out at me while looking at other players around the league in trying to evaluate them."
Terrell Suggs opening statement:
"I've just got to thank you guys. If you count the franchise tags, this is the fourth time I've had the opportunity to continue my play here. I'm truly grateful and flattered. This is a first-class organization. I'm really honored that I do get the opportunity to finish my career where I started it. It's just a really great day for me, and I'm truly flattered. I'm honored that I get to be a Raven for life. I can't thank Pat [Moriarty] enough. Throughout the whole negotiation, both sides came to the table [and said]: 'Let's get this done. Let's do what's right.' You can't ask for more – for a player in my position – is both sides willing to get a job done. I can't thank Pat enough, and I can't thank my agent, Joel Segal, enough. I cannot forget this organization and Steve Bisciotti. Like I said, anytime a contract negotiation has come up with me, they've always stepped up to the plate and went yard with it. I'm truly grateful. I can't thank the city – the fans – enough, because they may not think I see what they say to me on Twitter, but they have as much influence on me staying just as much as our front office getting the deal done as anybody. The fans really spoke, they really wanted me to stay here, and that's why I'm glad to say that, 'Sizzle is here for life.' I'm a lifer."
Before you were even drafted, was playing for one team the whole way a goal of yours, or did maybe did No. 52 [Ray Lewis] inspire you? (Joe Platania)
(SUGGS) "It wasn't a goal coming in. You learn those things as you go. I was very unfamiliar of the man of Ray Lewis – what he's most known for and what he did on the football field. I've learned the value of the word 'legacy' and being on one team and in one uniform your whole career. Like I said, you learn more about priorities when you play with a man like that. At the beginning, it was just like, 'I'm going to go in here and I'm going to shock [the world]; I'm going to take the league over.' [It was] young, stupid, arrogant [stuff] that 20-year-olds think. *(laughter) *At 20 years old, [you think]: 'I'm going to take it over.' I was quickly humbled with a pie, but I picked all that up as I came along. I don't want to go anywhere else. This city loves me."
Terrell, was your contract status something that was in the back of your mind last season or was it something that now that it's the offseason you started to focus on it? (Matt Vensel)
(SUGGS) *"I never really thought about it. It was more [a question of], 'How do we get back into the playoffs and have an opportunity to go on that run and do something special again?' And towards the end of the season, you start to hear a little gossip about it, and I didn't think it would be a big deal, because I've always played my contract out. I was always a man of my word in wanting to be held to an agreement that I agreed to. You learn the business side of it, and it was like, 'You might have to do something just so that we can create cap space and bring in more players for us to help us win.' At the end of the day, that's the most important thing, is us winning." *
Also along the lines of cap space and bringing people in, heading into the offseason, how much of a priority was working something like this out? And now that it has been worked out, how much does this help you, not only keeping Terrell but also having whatever additional cap space that comes along with it? (Matt Zenitz)
*(NEWSOME) *"Well, at the year-end press conference, we talked about doing extensions with players. We still have the same mindset that we're not going to do a whole lot of renegotiations, but doing some extensions with some of our players would allow us to be able to create some cap space. What it does is just allows us to have the opportunity to pursue some of our own guys, but also be prepared for when free agency opens up on March 11. If there are some players that are attractive to us, then we can pursue them."
You had said that you're going to – just to clarify – you will never wear another jersey besides the Baltimore Ravens' and will remain here in Baltimore. Is that the message? (Jerry Coleman)
(SUGGS)"That is definitely the message. That's the plan I see, unless Ozzie has a trick up his sleeve. (laughter) That's definitely it. Sizzle will be a Raven for life."
Terrell, there's no question last year wasn't the Ravens' standard of defense. How close do you think you guys are to being a dominant defense again? (Stan Charles)
(SUGGS)"I think we're very close. I think last year was definitely a period of adjustment. We had a lot of new guys in a lot of key places, and chemistry, you have to be able to click. I was able to take chances on plays when I had Superman [Ed Reed] in the secondary that can cover both sides of the field. I was able to do some things – a lot of guys, Haloti [Ngata] – and when you have a linebacker [Ray Lewis] that can see things coming, he's seeing the same thing you're seeing, and when you lose that, you kind of have to take a step back, and you just have to do your job. You can't take chances. I think we definitely learned, as I said it was a period of adjustment, and we definitely learned how to play with each other last year. And we went on a good run; we just didn't finish it the way that we wanted to. But, we're going to take that going forward."
As the longest-tenured member of the defense, now seeing what happens now with you getting an extension, that you're going to be here for life, do you think that kind of changes the mindset of maybe the younger players? Will you lead by example with your full commitment to the team? (Kris Jones)
(SUGGS)"I think so. I think most definitely. Anytime we get a new free agent here, they remind us of how good we have it. Guys will be like, 'Oh my god,' like they've never seen a locker room like us. They also have never seen anyone work as hard as us on the field. They definitely say that, like, 'You guys work,' and that pays off coming down the stretch. I think it definitely says a lot for the young guys coming up about what kind of organization that they're playing for, and I think it will inspire them."
How much progress have you guys made in trying to keep some of the young guys? (Aaron Wilson)
(NEWSOME)"We've engaged in discussions with several of our players. With the Combine coming up, the majority of the agents will be there and we will be there. I'm sure we'll have more talks, but we've engaged in several conversations with several players."
Having a chance to be away from football for the past six weeks, looking back at the second half of the season, is there any insight into why your numbers declined? (Luke Jones)
(SUGGS)"I've been taking a few looks at it. I have a few guesses, but I haven't really pinpointed one reason or another. The sacks kind of went down, but one thing did happen – we did start winning a lot. I think if I can just say one thing, it's just to narrow my work back down, you know what I mean? Don't try to do so much of everybody else's job. Let the coverage be itself, play the play, trust the play that's being called and just be Sizzle. So, I think I was probably down the stretch trying to do too much. As one game went by, as two games went by, it was just like, 'Alright, I need to get a sack. I need to get a sack,' and I stopped letting the game come to me. Just looking at it from off the top of my head, I would say that, but I'm definitely going to take a firmer look at it in the weeks coming ahead."* *
Was this something that you started working on as soon as the offseason began, or is it something that developed over the course of the last couple weeks? (Matt Zenitz)
(NEWSOME) *"As the process goes, we spent the time down [in Florida] with Steve [Bisciotti], and we put a plan together for the offseason. One of the aspects of that plan was to open up negotiations with Terrell [Suggs]. I think we probably started 10 days or two weeks ago real serious. I talked to Joel [Segal] when he was on his way out to the Pro Bowl to spend some time with Suggs, and he wanted a message from me to him, and I think that is what got the ball started." *
Have you started extension talks with other players already? (Jamison Hensley)
(NEWSOME) "Yes we have. Yes we have."
What I'm hearing you say is that looking at the film, he is still the guy that the other offenses want to take away. (Stan Charles)
*(NEWSOME) *"When you get a chance, especially this time of year where you don't have as much pressure of what is going to happen on Sunday, you can pull yourself back. But with me, I'm looking at another player on another team, but you see things that Suggs does, and you go, 'Hmm.' And again, three or four plays later, you go, 'Hmm.' And I'm spending my time looking at another player, but he kind of jumps off the tape in what he's doing."
Are those things synonymous with why his numbers might have gone down in the second half of the season – that other teams are trying to take him out of play? (Stan Charles)
*(NEWSOME) *"I don't have the answer to that. We and the coaching staff have had a series of personnel meetings. [Head coach] John [Harbaugh] and [linebackers coach] Ted [Monachino] and [defensive coordinator] Dean [Pees] and the defensive staff have spent a lot of time already looking at our personnel on defense and how we can get better. That's all coaching, and I'll leave it up to them. What I saw as a personnel guy watching other players, I saw Suggs do the things that I'm hoping some of the guys that we can get in the draft can do."
You were obviously disappointed with when the season ended and being out of the playoffs. How does getting this extension done early set you up for the rest of the offseason? (Jeff Zrebiec)
*(SUGGS) *"Definitely, it's one less thing to worry about. We can attack the offseason how we normally do. Suggs is on our team; Suggs is with us. This is where I wanted to be. I don't have to worry about where I'll be playing football next year and my training, so I can be the best player that I'm accustomed to being for my team. Another thing is we all knew we needed some salary cap space to bring some guys in so we can reload. The No. 1 priority is to get us back to that place where we were in the championship game the last two out of three years. I think that is definitely our No. 1 priority, and I think we did that even before free agency started."
Was salary cap space something on your mind at all, where you said, "I want to clear some space to get more guys in here?" (Garrett Downing)
*(SUGGS) *"The No. 1 priority for myself, Ozzie and everybody in this building is to win. How do we win? This is the business side of it where we needed to help bring in guys so we can win. We want to win, and we want to win by any means necessary."
Last season, you guys added Elvis Dumervil. How much of that was just insurance in case it wasn't able to work out with Terrell once his contract was over? How do you feel now that you're able to solidify two top-tier pass rushers in this league? (Kris Jones)
*(NEWSOME) *"When we signed Elvis [Dumervil] a year ago, we were trying to match another guy who can affect the pocket along with Suggs. It had nothing to do with whether we were going to be able to keep Suggs after 2014. We were just trying to get the best defensive players that we can on the field, and we'll be trying to do the same thing this year also."
I know you are not going to give out the exact figures, but without doing that, how much does this restructuring help cap-wise? How much better of a position does this put you in? (Matt Zenitz)
*(NEWSOME) *"It helps."
Ozzie, when you extend a contract, it's easy to figure out that it helps for the first year. Let's say for some reason Terrell Suggs can't play out this contract. How long does he need to play for this deal to make sense for the organization moving forward – Year Two, Three, Four – do you need him to play three years, four years for this deal to make sense long term? (Gerry Sandusky)
*(NEWSOME) *"When we put a deal together, we do look at it from that aspect. You're very good in asking that question. But No. 1, we look at a guy's age. We look at how many times he has been injured. And we factor all of those things into putting together the number of years. Ray [Lewis] played, what, 16, 17 years? I just saw Matt Stover who was here working out with his son yesterday, and he said he played – I didn't realize – until he was 42. So, what we try to do, we've tried to put together a deal that's a win-win for the player and for the organization. Now, whether he plays two years or three years, we have a mechanism to be able to deal with the salary cap that would make it friendly for us and friendly for Terrell."
Terrell, I know last year when you came back, you said you were in the best shape of your life. Do you feel like what you learned from that offseason approach, do you plan on taking that same approach? And do you have in your mind how long you think you can play at the level you're accustomed to? (Clifton Brown)
*(SUGGS) *"Well, basically the plan going forward into the offseason is to hit another level. I want to see if there's another level I can hit. Yes, I came back in phenomenal shape last year, and I plan on coming back in phenomenal shape this year. But, people, they see that [I'm] going into my 12th year, but people also forget I came in [to the NFL] when I was 20. So, most guys that are going into their 12th year, they come in when they're like 23, 25, and they're going on 37, 35. I'm only 31 years old, and when the 2014 season starts, I still will be 31 years old. So, I guess what you're asking … Yes, you can expect some 'Sizzle' next year."
Terrell, you touched a little on the fan base and how you're tight with the fans and the fans love you being here. With the business part of it being done now, you're able to end your career here. How does that feel? (Bill West)
*(SUGGS) *"It just feels great, because they might not be out there physically, but our fans are emotionally involved in us. It affects their life, their day-to-day [life depending] upon how we play on Sunday. And like I said, I've been here since I was a young man, and I was able to grow here and I was able to grow with this city. So, I'm very emotionally connected to them. They want us to do good, they want us to do great, and they've always supported us, and they've always supported me. I just … Last year, that's not how this story is supposed to end. And it's definitely [that] we need to go on another special run for our fans and for our city."
Ozzie, I have to ask about Ray Rice. How concerned are you about his status, and have you had an opportunity to talk with him? (Jeff Zrebiec)
*(NEWSOME) *"Neither John [Harbaugh] nor I, at this point, have spoken with Ray. I'm sure within the next 24 hours one of us will. But as far as Ray, I think a statement has already been released from the organization, and we stand by that statement."
Not to put you on the spot with it, but can you commit at this point to Ray being a part of the team going into the season? Is that something you guys have begun to even think about? (Matt Zenitz)
*(NEWSOME) *"When I left my office 20 minutes ago, and John [Harbaugh] had probably been in there probably 15 minutes before then, Ray Rice was still a big part of what we plan to do in 2014."
Can you talk about your concerns as well? I mean, as you look at the situation, I know you're trying to determine what to do, but you have to have some concerns about this? (Barry Simms)
*(NEWSOME) *"I don't know the situation. I've only gotten what has been written. I've not had a chance to talk to Ray; I have not had a chance to talk to [director of security] Darren [Sanders]. So, I really don't know the situation, and up until – with me – I get all the answers, then that's when we make decisions within this organization – once we get all the information we can get."