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Florio Jr. had basketball practice this afternoon and then the family went out to dinner (the tomato and mozzarella panini at Panera is vastly underrated), so I’m just seeing for the first time the news that Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis won’t be giving his team the so-called “hometown discount.”  (But at least Ray won’t be giving the Ravens the “Atlanta surprise.”)
His stance makes sense.  Lewis had been clamoring for a new deal for years, and the team’s position was that Lewis had signed a “retirement deal” in 2002.
So now that the contract is expiring, Lewis is justified in “retiring” from the Ravens, and moving on.
What’s that, you say?  The Ravens could still use the franchise tag on Lewis?  Don’t count on it — they surely realize that having a pissed off Lewis on the roster is far worse than watching him walk away.
The Cowboys would benefit from his leadership skills in the locker room, especially since the coaching staff has provided little of it.  But would Lewis thrive in a 3-4?  Typically, he prefers having two defensive tackles in front of him, tying up blockers so that he can run to the ball.
The Jets make sense as well, given that his former defensive coordinator is the head coach and his former position coach is the defensive coordinator.  Apart from the fact that the Jets have been using a 3-4 as well, the team would need to clear some serious cap space in order to lure a guy like Lewis.
So let’s look at this a little more creatively.
How about Cincinnati?  They need linebackers, they run a 4-3, and coach Marvin Lewis once worked as Ray’s defensive coordinator in Baltimore.
And Lewis would get a crack at the Ravens, twice per year.
The Saints are desperate to improve their defense, and they have the offense to be competitive.
The Cardinals have the cap room, and a guy like Lewis would be a great complement to their high-octane offense.
There are plenty of opportunities.  The one destination that’s becoming decreasingly likely for Lewis is Baltimore.

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  1. Dave Zastudil says: Feb 5, 2009 7:31 PM

    You’re insane if you think Mike Brown would give Ray Lewis the kind of money he wants/deserves.

  2. JPeezy55 says: Feb 5, 2009 7:43 PM

    Florio you do realize that Lewis played most of his career as a 3-4 ILB don’t you? And that his old DC, and current Jets head coach, Rex Ryan uses mostly the 3-4 right? Why would Lewis have issues playing in the 3-4 when he’s done it most of his career? Foolio strikes again!

  3. momar3000 says: Feb 5, 2009 7:44 PM

    Why does everyone think Baltimore won’t sign Ray?? What has Newsome or Biscotti ever done to make you think they don’t understand what Ray means to this team. The defense was ranked six or better the past 10 years except 2002 when Ray missed more than half the season. We were 22nd that year!!!!
    Also, “Dave Zastudil”??? Are you the punter?? If not, that’s a really random player name to use for a Login name.

  4. CSP1 says: Feb 5, 2009 7:44 PM

    You’re also insane if you think Ray Lewis would rot away in football purgatory called Cincinnati

  5. organizedchaos says: Feb 5, 2009 7:46 PM

    You can speculate and write your opinion all you want (and usually you are wrong most of the time). But Ray Lewis is NOT leaving Baltimore.

  6. carpkillah says: Feb 5, 2009 7:55 PM

    The “Cleveland Steamer” could be far worse yet, Florio.
    It might be best for everyone if he were to leave, because he doesn’t deserve to have to play for a discount. He’s a great player, but he’s aging and they can’t afford to pay to keep him around. Maybe they’re further ahead going in a younger direction.

  7. neutral_like_sweden says: Feb 5, 2009 7:56 PM

    What? Didn’t the Ravens use a 3-4??? Florio, you’re slipping…again.

  8. esafille says: Feb 5, 2009 7:56 PM

    How about back to his college town of Miami, FL? With Crowder on his way out, you gotta believe the Tuna trifecta would like to have Ray for a few years!

  9. ookie says: Feb 5, 2009 7:59 PM

    Panera? Nothing but the best for the Florio family. Did you spend all your money in Tampa?

  10. mike quick says: Feb 5, 2009 8:08 PM

    Hey dumbass, the Ravens run a 3-4

  11. bavaro89 says: Feb 5, 2009 8:14 PM

    Didn’t Lewis say he wanted to play for the Fins a year or two ago?

  12. BennyBoy says: Feb 5, 2009 8:16 PM

    Sometimes you amaze me positively with the conclusions you draw and the scoop you gather. But here you’ve missed the boat; big time. Rex Ryan has run a 3-4 for the last few years. Bart Scott is the other inside backer., with Terrell Suggs and Jarrett Johnson outside. As a Stelers fan we see them a couple times a year, and while I dread playing them and despise a number of their players, I have to give that defense and the LBs in particular a good deal of respect.

  13. Jeremiah W says: Feb 5, 2009 8:23 PM

    Why would they not use the tag, the transiion tag or one of the lesser ones if they did not want him back long term but he was going to be worth a 25-30 gauranteed type bonus? What is so upsetting about getting tagged anyway? 8.4 for 1 year and then you are a free agent again. As long as he does not get seriously injured, the free agent value would not go down by 8.4 in one year, and the difference could be used to buy an expensive insurance policy.
    A lot of teams could use Ray Lewis, but how many of those teams would pay him more than the Ravens, and have won a playoff game in the last 15 years? Bungles? The Cowboys and Jets ae not nearly as pathetic but have less cap room and did not just get to the AFC championship game with the most guys on IR of any playoff team.
    Ray will be back, and so will the Ravens.

  14. nflhof says: Feb 5, 2009 8:23 PM

    I bet a few Turkey bags would bring Ray back. Nothing like a turkey bag incentive plan

  15. RyanHarris says: Feb 5, 2009 8:29 PM

    For Rays sake I hope he made a buttload of money with that stupid SOBE superbowl ad.

  16. ppdoc says: Feb 5, 2009 8:30 PM

    Florio – it has been brought up on this blog and is true that the Ravens run a 3-4 hybrid. Lewis and Scott are the ILB’s and Jarrett Johnson and Suggs are the OLB’s. So you are either showing your ignorance or you are not researching what you write. Kind of disappointing considering that the people who read this site tend to be reasonably knowledgeable.
    Ray Lewis is the best MLB of the modern era, bar none. You have to go back to Willie Lanier to find someone with his combination of speed and power. No one else is even close.
    Ozzie believes in the right player at the right price. If Ray wants more than Ozzie is willing to give, then he will leave. The bad news for Ray is that there is no place that he is as valuable as to the Ravens. He can’t just go into some locker room and pretend like he has been there for a decade.
    Ray is a great player, but he takes a lot of bad advise and often makes bad decisions. Look at Atlanta, look at his investments. The reason he has been clamoring for more money after being made the highest defensive player in the league 5 years ago is that he can’t keep his pants zipped and many of his investments are foolish.
    That being said, he works hard in the community and his value as a student of the game can not be overstated. His physical ability is matched by his film prep and insight.
    I hope he stays in Bmore. But NE and Pitts are successful because they let their “stars” go rather than pay them for their past history. If the Ravens want to consistently be in the playoffs they could take a lesson from the Squealers and the Pats. If he leaves, he’ll still make the Ring of Honor, but he will have squandered his legacy in Bmore which could have made him a pile of money in endorsements long after he retires from the game. I hope he realizes that, but having watched him for over a decade, I just don’t think that he can look in the future and make good long term decisions.
    Either way, it has been a real pleasure watching him play for over 10 years. His passion for the game and ability to play are astounding. He’s not the leader of men that people like to make him out to be, but his is the best defensive football player I have ever seen, and I have been actively watching football for the better part of 4 decades.

  17. Big Stuff says: Feb 5, 2009 8:35 PM

    He’d fit right in New Orleans, the murder capital of the world.

  18. Mr Football says: Feb 5, 2009 8:36 PM

    Perhaps you’re still hungover from the Superbowl but why don’t you at least check into the Cowboys and Jets cap situation before you see if they can sign him. The Jets are already over the cap unless they cut players and the Cowboys only have $10 million in cap space and they still have to sign Ware. The Ravens will have close to $30 million in cap space once they cut Chris McCallister. They have plenty of space to sign Lewis, Suggs, Brown and whoever else they want.

  19. Tex Big Balls says: Feb 5, 2009 8:47 PM

    Lost in all the 3-4/4-3 talk is the fact that Ray Lewis referred to the Dallas Cowboys as “America’s Team”.
    Pittsburgh fan, you have the forum.

  20. WilliamWallace says: Feb 5, 2009 9:16 PM

    He’d be smart to follow Haynesworth whereever he goes. If Dansby leaves Arizona, Lewis would be a good replacement. I’ve heard they have a pile of cap room, so Haynesworth and Lewis could both be added, and Lewise could play behind Dockett and Haynesworth. That’s a mean middle in front of Adrian Wilson.

  21. rjakapeanut4u says: Feb 5, 2009 9:18 PM

    for all the idiots slamming florio about the 3-4 thing…
    ray lewis prefers the 4-3 defense. we’re all aware that the ravens run a 3-4 primarily. its still a fact though, he prefers the 4-3.

  22. JimmySmith says: Feb 5, 2009 9:25 PM

    He should sign with the Falcons, he would just kill down there.

  23. steelerfan9598 says: Feb 5, 2009 9:26 PM

    ‘Atlanta Surprise’ – Classic

  24. WilliamWallace says: Feb 5, 2009 9:31 PM

    He’d be smart to follow Haynesworth whereever he goes. If Dansby leaves Arizona, Lewis would be a good replacement. I’ve heard they have a pile of cap room, so Haynesworth and Lewis could both be added, and Lewise could play behind Dockett and Haynesworth. That’s a mean middle in front of Adrian Wilson.

  25. EaglesJagssomeday says: Feb 5, 2009 9:32 PM

    is he still the heart of (the ghostbusters) the baltimore ravens?

  26. finsider says: Feb 5, 2009 9:36 PM

    For some reason I thought that title would bring a Ghostbusters reference but I over estimated your coolness.

  27. FumbleNuts says: Feb 5, 2009 9:37 PM

    I could see Lewis in a Lions uni breathing life into that team.

  28. dolphin fan says: Feb 5, 2009 9:40 PM

    Panini?? Panera??? Don’t they have a freakin’ Domino’s in West Virginia?

  29. DanSnyder says: Feb 5, 2009 9:56 PM

    Ray come to the redskins, for an amount that wont break the bank. #4 over all defense last year, hard hitting but could really use your motivation. Plus you would get to beat on the rest of the NFC east twice a year. Alot of meaningful highlights as opposed to playing the browns and bengals twice a year.

  30. favrewillplay4ever says: Feb 5, 2009 10:21 PM

    every one of us seems to have respect for ray lewis the competitor and the athlete. he is the heart and soul of the baltimore ravens. the first name that comes to mind when one mentions the ravens is ray lewis. i believe it would be tragic for the ravens not to resign ray.
    as a packer fan, having teddy tight wad for a gm, i am obviously doubtful that the packers would ever sign him. the switch to the 3-4 wouldn’t help our prospects either.
    one thing that strikes fear in my mind (as a packer fan) would be for the vikings to sign him. they already have a top ranked rush defense. they have two gynormus d tackles in venus and serena williams. they run his preferred 4-3. he would come with a huge price tag, but im pretty sure the vikes have a ton of cap space. though the most obvious glaring need for them would be to bring a quarterback, if ej henderson isn’t expected to come back 100% next year, he would be a monster pick up for them this offseason.
    can one imagine trying to run on the vikes if ray was patrolling the middle unblocked? you gotta believe jared allen would even give up some of his 69 million to get ray on board.
    for the nfc’s sake, i hope that baltimore resigns ray. he needs to retire a raven.

  31. raiderfan2k4 says: Feb 5, 2009 10:56 PM

    Florio u expose your knowledge (or lack there of) of actual football. Ray Lewis has been playin in a 3-4 for most of his career especially in the last couple of years, i think since 2004. Its more optimal for him to play in a 3-4 because the nose tackle is usually able to fend the center and a guard, allowing ray lewis or bart scott to roam free. Also the ends in a 3-4 play a 5 technique meaning they are placed right on the tackle and tries to engage them allowing the linebackers to roam free but that is mainly for the outside ones.

  32. Frank Burns says: Feb 5, 2009 11:34 PM

    Wow what a glorious year — Steelers win the Bowl, then we get to see the chief clown in Baltimore head out the door. Oh what other new and wonderful surprises will the still-young year bring?

  33. rellik1666 says: Feb 5, 2009 11:52 PM

    I think Lewis would be a nice fit for the Bengals because he can provide the desperately needed leadership in that locker room. Going into next season the Bengals are estimated to be about $28 million under the projected cap of $123 million. That is the fifth-best in the league in terms of cap room. So they have the cap room even if the re-sign some of their own key free agents. Lewis may also want to play for Marvin again where need I remind you he got his one and only Super Bowl ring with him as his coordinator. Marvin as stated publicly that they were going to be proactive this year, and he wants the team to be more disciplined both on and off the field. Now who better to provide that than Ray Lewis.

  34. thecurseofmapco says: Feb 6, 2009 12:19 AM

    Florio is only half wrong about the Ravens’ 3-4. Teams like the Ravens, Browns, and 49ers play more of a hybrid 3-4 with larger defensive ends. Look at Ngata, the guy is 345 lbs. and he went into this season as a DE before switching over to NT to replace Kelly Gregg. 345 is the same size as other 3-4 NTs like Casey Hampton and Jamal Williams. With guys like Ngata, Gregg, Kemoeatu, and Siragusa, the Ravens have traditionally fielded 3 man fronts consisting of 2 NTs. Jarrett Johnson is another key player. He’s closer to a guy like Brett Kiesel or Justin Smith than a traditional rush end like Suggs, Adalius Thomas, LaMar Woodley, Shawn Merriman, James Harrison, et al. Ray-Ray has always stated his preference for a stout defensive line, because a.) by the time the game begins he’s much to tired from dancing to fight through blocks and make plays on his own, and b.) he wants to make sure he’s the only defensive player on the tv screen when he makes a tackle.

  35. jaxdolfan says: Feb 6, 2009 4:23 AM

    Ray could come to Miami. Lets see.
    Parcells wants
    Football players…..Ray qualifies here.
    No Thugs, Hoodlums or Gangsters…..Wow Channing Crowder is all of a sudden looking good.

  36. BillicksThesaurus says: Feb 6, 2009 8:15 AM

    Mo’ Money was a good movie.

  37. AllSeeingEye says: Feb 6, 2009 8:19 AM

    Every relevant article I’ve read has said that the Ravens ran a version of the 3-4 under Rob Ryan. You might want to check with you’re buddies at Rotoworld or Football Outsiders but I’m sure I’ve read that the Ravens run a version of the 3-4 a large percentage of the time.

  38. ppdoc says: Feb 6, 2009 8:39 AM

    @ Frank Burns – given that you have the personality of a used condom, anything you have to say regarding Ray Lewis or the Ravens can A. be discounted and B. laughed at.

  39. ppdoc says: Feb 6, 2009 8:43 AM

    @relikk166 – if you think ray is going to sign with the Bengals, you must be smoking the same stuff that Michael Phelps got snapshoted on. If he goes, it will be to a Dallas, NY, Miami type of place that believes that one player will put them over the top. The Bengals are well more than one player on their defense to make them winners and their DT’s are mediocre at best. He needs big DT’s to take the pressure off his style of play by occupying the OL blocking him.

  40. smiley says: Feb 6, 2009 8:51 AM

    They’re going to franchise em’…..that have to…you don’t lose that level of player to free agency without getting something in return. He can be pissed about it all he wants but that’s the business.

  41. thoroughbred30 says: Feb 6, 2009 10:42 AM

    IMO, I think the Ravens plan on keeping Suggs and Lewis under contract. The one that can walk should be Bart Scott. If they get him signed, Great! If not, Antwan Barnes will probably being flying around the ball similar to the way Scott was. If Suggs really will give the Ravens a “discount” then Ray Lewis will probably get a tag.
    And Tennessee (Ahmad Hall not included) has no reason to be thinking Ray Lewis isn’t washed up. If Crumpler doesn’t go Brian Leonard at the 5-yard line, Lendale White doesn’t have an unfortunate fumble in the redzone, or Kerry Collins doesn’t throw an Alex Smith style interception then the Titans probably win the game and probably the Super Bowl. Yes, I said it THE SUPER BOWL

  42. Pea Tear Griffin says: Feb 6, 2009 10:49 AM

    Ha! Could you imagine Ray Lewis and Joey Porter on the same team?? 2 of the more vocal players in the league. They’d be fighting for attention on day 1!

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