Ozzie Newsome not giving up on keeping Ed Reed, says team needs to address middle of defense

FootballSportsOzzie NewsomeTerrence CodyPaul KrugerNFLCary Williams

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome isn't giving up hope on potentially retaining veteran free safety Ed Reed.

The pending unrestricted free agent's six-year, $44.4 million contract expired.

Newsome has already broached the subject with the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, but the parties won't have serious conversations until after Reed has taken some time to contemplate his future.

Reed has interviewed agents after firing his previous representation years ago. However, he has yet to hire a new agent, which complicates his status.

"Not officially, but unofficially we've had conversations," Newsome said. "I think he's still representing himself still. I don't if he's got an agent, but I think he wanted to let some time clear and at that point, he and I will sit down. I think he realizes there may be some other options out there, but I think if you watched him, if you watched his body language over the course of the last eight to 10 days that he loves being here in Baltimore, and I think we can use that to help make that relationship last a little bit longer."

Regardless of whether Reed returns, Newsome acknowledged the need to upgrade the middle of the defense.

The Ravens are losing inside linebacker Ray Lewis to retirement and could lose Reed as a free agent. Nose guards Terrence Cody and Ma'ake Kemoeatu, meanwhile, struggled mightily for the majority of the season.

The team could also lose inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, outside linebacker Paul Kruger and cornerback Cary Williams to free agency, depending on what happens with quarterback Joe Flacco's contract negotiation and how much interest they field on the open market.

"As we talked about it, the middle of the defense," Newsome said. "We think we've got to get better at defensive tackle. We know that we have one linebacker retiring and one that's a free agent. We've got a safety that's a free agent and some young guys that have yet to step up. So we would say the middle of the defense is probably the one area that we will concentrate on.

"In saying that, we realize that pass-rushers and the guys that can cover, we felt pretty good about that. We still need an elite pass rusher to match the guys that we have, but when we talked through it, we felt very good about we've got guys on the edges that can cover and cover with the best of them, and we've got guys that can set the edge and have some opportunity to rush through to the passer."

awilson@baltsun.com

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