After earning approximately $315,000 per tackle, there is not much debate as to whether or not Ed Reed was a bust in his lone season with the Houston Texans. Now that Houston is 2-7 and safely out of the playoff race, they decided to say goodbye to the player that was supposed to help them move playoff contenders to Super Bowl contenders and evaluate younger players.
Bringing Reed back to the Baltimore Ravens would undoubtedly be a popular move amongst fans, but could he actually help his old team on the field? The team is currently 18th in the NFL in pass defense, and just released their own disappointing veteran signee (Michael Huff), so it would stand to reason that the secondary could use a veteran hand to help shut down the opposition.
However, Reed’s old spot of free safety is currently occupied by first-round pick Matt Elam. The rookie is still trying to force his first turnover (he has recovered one fumble), but it is extremely unlikely that the coaches would hand over the starting position to a 35-year-old fresh off the waiver wire, potentially crippling Elam’s confidence moving forward. So, where would Reed fit in?
Unheralded sixth-year veteran James Ihedigbo just had the best game of his career, as he recorded nine tackles and two interceptions in the victory against the Cincinnati Bengals. Whether this game was the start of a career turnaround or a mere anomaly, Reed will not step in for Ihedigbo, either. Tackling has been a problem for this team, and is one of the reasons Huff was released.
Reed himself has not been much of a tackler since the neck injury that threatened to prematurely end his career in 2010, but can still ball hawk with the best of them, as evidenced by his four interceptions during last year’s Super Bowl run. His days of crushing receivers across the middle may be long gone, but it seems unlikely that the speed and instincts that delivered 61 interceptions (good for 10th all time) would completely abandon him in the span of 10 months.
Reed could potentially be effective as a specialist, coming in on dime and some nickel situations to bolster the secondary and provide a threat that quarterbacks would still take note of before they toss the deep ball, even at Reed’s advanced age. If it is understood that his days as a star, even in Baltimore, are over, and he agrees to the veteran’s minimum, this could be a worthy low-risk endeavor for the Ravens. His status in the locker room would provide instant leadership for a team lacking it after the losses of Reed, Ray Lewis and Anquan Boldin, amongst others.
In the worst-case scenario, if Baltimore’s midseason swoon continues, Reed’s presence would give fans a reason to come out and see one of their legends ride into the sunset, something in hindsight he probably should have done after the team’s Super Bowl win last season.
Hey, better late than never.