First, there is Mr. Bisciotti saying he doesn't see the team using the franchise tag on Lewis, and that he expects the team to go all out in re-signing him (which effectively cuts out a major negotiating tactic from Ozzie Newsome). Then there is Terrell Suggs saying that maybe he, Lewis, and Bart Scott could ALL give the team a hometown discount in order to stay together. And kudos to Suggs for even contemplating having a team first mentality, when that is such a rarity in professional sports (and major college sports too, for that matter).
Now add to that the mixed feelings of understanding that this is (barring some kind of miracle) going to be his last contract (or at least the last one with any real big money to it) and that Lewis would want to maximize the amount of money he makes mixed with the fact that he has made a LOT of money in his 13 year career and that the team and the city showed him a lot of loyalty during his legal issues of 1999-2000. So while I can see his point, to outright deny the possibility the prospect of taking a little less in order to stay and finish his career here in front of the fans who have made him a multi-millionaire many times over is a bit of a slap in the face, at least to this fan. One would think the psychic income would account for SOMETHING, if he really means what he says about Baltimore always being his city and how much love and respect he has for us as fans.
So where does that leave me in regards to my previous post about the teams re-signing priorities? Honestly, if anything it moves him down below Leonhard and Neal. And that is iffy. Probably it doesn't move him at all, at least to me. But at the most it would move him from 3rd to 5th. The big question becomes would the Ravens use the franchise tag on him, even after Bisciotti said they wouldn't? If he truly trusts Newsome to make the personnel decisions (and looking at his track record with the roster why wouldn't he?) then it could still happen (although I would rather save it for Jason Brown, as stated in the aforementioned article). The fact of the matter is that Ray Lewis IS 33, and about to enter his 14th season of football, playing a very physically demanding position. He is in fantastic shape. He seems to be playing as well as he ever has. But this is the first time he has played in all 16 regular season games since 2003, and he is not going to be able to play forever. It is not worth taking a cap hit that would cripple this team now or in the future in order to secure his services for another 2-4 years. Offer him a fair deal. If he refuses, we will have to see where he winds up. If it is Kansas City or Detroit it is all about the money and always has been, and his proclamations of wanting to win another championship will be proven to be all talk. If it is Miami, at least it is his hometown team, and they did have a good season last year. If it is to the Jets or the Cowboys, he is probably trying to win it all AND get the massive payday (but if my memory serves the Jets are in salary cap purgatory, at least until Brett Favre makes up his mind about playing in 2009).
All we can do now is see how it shakes out.