Suggs chasing QBs, not money

OWINGS MILLS -- Terrell Suggs' infectious enthusiasm was on full display Wednesday morning as the Baltimore Ravens' Pro Bowl outside linebacker chased quarterbacks and his personal brand of comedy. Suggs delivered a good-natured promise to punish tight end Quinn Sypniewski for having the temerity to catch a pass. He flexed his biceps while pointing and yelling at rookie linebacker Antwan Barnes.

Prior to the snap during full-team drills, Suggs initiated an unconventional high-five with wide receiver Derrick Mason that would have made Borat proud.

These weren't the actions of a cautious athlete consumed with boosting his bank account amidst ongoing contract negotiations heading into the final year of his rookie contract. Neither were Suggs' words.

"I really don't care if it happens soon, to be totally honest with you," said Suggs, whose agent, Gary Wichard, has been in discussions with Baltimore since just prior to the draft. "I'm just a football player. I tend to let that side of the sport work itself out. When they get a deal done, they'll get a deal done. But if they don't, I'm still fine.

"It's not something that's on my to-do list. I'm not worried about it. I'm not going to play softer because I'm trying to get a contract. You know how we're aggressive on this defense. If you don't bring that, you lose everything about yourself."

It's no secret that one reason why the Ravens decided not to assign the franchise tag to All-Pro outside linebacker Adalius Thomas or attempted to compete with the New England Patriots' five-year $35 million offer he accepted is keeping him would likely have thwarted their ability to retain Suggs under the salary cap.

Plus, Suggs won't turn 25 until October and has already notched 40 sacks in 64 career games. With two Pro Bowl selections under his belt and a growing reputation as a complete defensive end/linebacker who thrived against the run last season, Suggs is regarded as the future of the Ravens' defense.

So far, negotiations are apparently amicable and Suggs isn't doing anything to disrupt or participate in contract talks.

"I love the city of Baltimore," Suggs said. "I'd love to be here. I just have to let them do what they do. That's not my part.

"They didn't bring me in to negotiate my contract. They brought me here to play football. That's pretty much what I'm doing. I'm not particularly bothered by it right now."

That's a reasonable stance. Especially considering that Suggs will be well-compensated this season regardless of whether a lucrative contract extension is struck.

His base salary increased to $5 million for 2007 as a result of Suggs triggering an escalator clause with his 40th career sack last year against the Buffalo Bills to conclude the regular season.

Suggs was adamant that he will not hold out of training camp. That seems like an unlikely scenario considering his fun-loving personality and assurances from the Ravens that they're determined to sign him to a big contract.

They have a tradition of rewarding young veterans who have established themselves, making safety Ed Reed and tight end Todd Heap the highest paid at their respective positions over the past two offseasons.

Suggs is likely to command guaranteed money in excess of $20 million judging from the recent activity in the NFL marketplace.

Thomas' deal included $20 million in guaranteed money, and the Seattle Seahawks signed Patrick Kerney to a six-year, $39.5 million deal in March that included $19.5 million in guaranteed money.

However, Suggs is much younger than those veterans.

Suggs, who registered 86 tackles and 9 ½ sacks last season along with three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, sounds more intent on expanding his game than his financial portfolio.

"Coverage, I think that's the one thing I'm lacking," he said. "I'd like to get back to my roots, rushing a lot more.

"Rex Ryan always takes care of me. He always puts in a great blitz package for us. You always want to take your game to the highest it can go."

NOTES: Wide receiver Mark Clayton returned to practice after missing the first day of minicamp for a good reason. Clayton's wife is pregnant and they had a doctor's appointment.

"I had to take care of her," he said. "We don't have any family out here, so I had to step up for her. Everything is good, she's great."

Not participating in practice: offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe), cornerback David Pittman (hamstring), linebackers Dan Cody (hyperextended knee), Mike Smith (shoulder) and Dennis Haley (unspecified).

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis playfully snuck into the offensive huddle with Ravens coach Brian Billick quipping: "You were the guy we were going to."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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