As life beyond football looms, Ed Reed remains hungry

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Reed is slated to earn $7.2 million in the final season of a six-year deal signed in 2006. But Reed is without representation and is negotiating with Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome by himself. This can create problems for someone as emotional as Reed, who understands it’s a business and that complications can be involved.

But for Reed, as prolific or as valuable as he is, the last thing he wants to hear from his boss is that he’s aging and isn’t worth as much as his previous contract. This is where an agent can step in and handle the process without interfering with the player’s mindset. Before the 2011 season, Baltimore offered Reed an extension worth less than the $8 million-per-year threshold younger NFL safeties have received. Reed turned it down, and while both sides still are open to talks, it’s unclear what the status of negotiations are at the moment.

Reed is famously frugal, having saved a lot of his money earned throughout his playing years. It’s one reason he chooses not to have an agent, as he wants to play a big part in the decision-making process. It’s not that he’s a control freak, he just wants to be in the know. A friend close to Reed, however, said he believes the Ravens safety will hire an agent at some point to try and get a deal done. Reed has hinted at this, partly because he wants to end his career where it started.

“In this business, because there’s a lot of stuff that you have to deal with, I didn’t want a middle man in between it,” Reed said. “I felt like we could have handled [a contract extension]. But you do need somebody to say the things that you’re not able to say because you’re in the business.”

The same friend said Reed is aware there’s a chance he’ll leave the organization if Baltimore allows the player to test free agency like it did with Ray Lewis in 2009. It was clear Lewis would give Baltimore the chance to match the highest bidder. If the Ravens allow Reed to hit the market, it could be the end of an era in Charm City.

Reed, the teacher

The Ravens signed cornerback Cary Williams away from Tennessee’s practice squad in 2009, and he was star struck from the beginning.

Playing alongside Reed in Baltimore’s secondary would have been enough to satisfy the 27-year-old’s childhood dream. But Reed took Williams under his tutelage, beginning in his early days in Baltimore as a reserve who played mostly on special teams.

“I’m just very blessed to be in a position to get two words out of the guy every day, and take every advantage given to me to talk to him and seek his instruction, his guidance on and off the field,” Williams said. “He’s a smart man. He knows how to maneuver. He’s one of those guys you looked up to when you were a little kid.”

Reed’s done the same with Lardarius Webb, a young corner from Nicholls State who had a breakout campaign in 2011. Strong safety Bernard Pollard, who had a reputation for being just a box safety in Houston, had his best NFL season playing alongside Reed a year ago.

Reed has done a lot of teaching on the field, on the fly. Some of the other defensive backs have stated Reed’s knowledge and ability to read offenses has compensated for their own mistakes. This on-the-job training has become essential to players such as Webb and Williams.

“We give them the blueprint in the meetings,” said secondary coach Teryl Austin. “We come out and coach but those guys have to really kind of have to figure out how to work with each other on game day. [Reed is] a giant part of that because he makes all the calls, how things should look, and Ed makes it a lot easier for me.”

It doesn’t stop with football. Reed’s teaching extends to other arenas, something Williams has taken to heart.

“We always talk about when the cameras come on, that’s your resume,” Williams said. “You want to put the best resume out there possible, that you’re able to make those plays and do those things they require you to do. He’s talking about being more than just a football player — expanding your horizons on a whole different level.”

Reed’s love for football

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