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Is Terrell Suggs Worth $63 Million?

Posted on July 18, 2009 by Dean Hybl
The new $63 million contract signed by Terrell Suggs with the Baltimore Ravens makes him the highest paid linebacker in football history.

The new $63 million contract signed by Terrell Suggs with the Baltimore Ravens makes him the highest paid linebacker in football history.

Now I know that Terrell Suggs is a very good NFL player and an important component of the vaunted Baltimore Ravens defense, but his new $63 million contract is a great illustration of just how out of whack salaries have gotten in professional sports.

I’m really not sure that any professional athlete is worth $63 million, but I’m definitely sure that a player like Suggs isn’t.

Yes Suggs has made three Pro Bowls in six NFL seasons, but he has never earned first team All-Pro honors and it would be a stretch to include him on the list of the top five linebackers in the NFL.

Heck, Suggs isn’t even the best defensive player on his own team, though he was the highest paid player even before signing his new contract.

And yet, Suggs is now the highest paid linebacker in the history of the NFL.

Let’s see, Sam Huff, Ray Nitschke, Dick Butkus, Lawrence Taylor, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs. Err, no, just don’t see Suggs quite fitting into that list.

Unless he steps up his game to a much higher level over the next few years, I’m pretty certain that Suggs will not be joining the others in the Hall of Fame.

It was interesting that the new deal for Suggs was announced shortly after Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel agreed to a six-year, $63 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Granted that Suggs has been a productive NFL player for six years and Cassel had one pretty good season as the starter in New England, but the future success of the Chiefs is much more tied to Cassel than the success of the Ravens is to Suggs.

But, though both players agreed to $63 million deals, Suggs will receive $38 million guaranteed while Cassel has $28 million in guaranteed money in his contract.

There was a time when money generally was associated with greatness. The highest salaries were generally reserved for the best players.

However, that has not been the case for quite some time. Thanks to agents and long-term contracts, it isn’t always about how good you are it is about timing, leverage and perceived value to the team.

Even though Ed Reed, Craig McAlister and Ray Lewis are arguably better players, Suggs has been able to propel his role into an unprecedented salary.

Now, the question will be whether Suggs can lift his game to a level where his enormous salary can be justified.

That remains to be seen, but the Ravens would certainly be pleased if Suggs starts playing in a manner that make people forget his Hall of Fame caliber salary and instead are able to spend time discussing his Hall of Fame caliber play.

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