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Terrell Suggs timeline: How a strange year led the Ravens legend to a Super Bowl with the Chiefs

first_imgThe Ravens wanted to keep Suggs, especially since his departure would leave them with Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams as the outside linebackers on the roster. Suggs said Baltimore made him “a handsome offer” to return, but he declined.Instead, what he called “a decision in the last hour” led him to his offseason home.”It was just time,” he said.Cardinals signingSuggs told SN the factors that pushed him to Arizona in free agency “had nothing to do with football.” That shouldn’t be a surprise considering the Cardinals were coming off a 3-13 season, the worst in the NFL, and had not yet drafted quarterback Kyler Murray. They had given Kliff Kingsbury his first NFL head coaching job just two months prior.”It’s going to be very exciting.” – @untouchablejay4 pic.twitter.com/kE4D0YaSId— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) March 14, 2019Arizona signed Suggs to a one-year, $7 million contract with $700,000 guaranteed, a steep drop in guarantees from those in his last Baltimore contract but technically a raise from the $5.2 million average salary the Ravens were paying him. Suggs has not said how much Baltimore offered in 2019 free agency.”I had to make a decision to come back and play a couple of more years, or whatever I got left,” Suggs said in his introductory media conference after signing with the Cardinals. “I felt like if I wasn’t going to be in a Ravens jersey, there’s only one place I was going to be playing, so here we are.”After recording a pair of sacks in the Cardinals’ season-opening tie with the Lions at home, Suggs’ first away game in an Arizona uniform was at Baltimore — because of course. He recorded three tackles (one solo) in the Cardinals’ 23-17 loss.Suggs’ contributions remained steady as the season played out, but as the team kept losing, priorities shifted. (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/82/fa/terrell-suggs-101618-getty-ftrjpg_19ecs1bvdyrc91jrqena9z5ck9.jpg?t=2116062814&w=500&quality=80 Suggs would be placed on waivers, a process in which all NFL teams get a chance to claim a player who’s been cut. The league’s worst team in the standings gets the first claim opportunity, and so on.Reports indicated Suggs would only play for the Ravens after he had been released by the Cardinals. The truth is he was open to other possibilities as long as a criteria was met.”If I was going to play, I (was hoping) for a playoff team,” Suggs said, adding that he didn’t know what he would have done had a non-contender claimed him. Retirement also was an option.Four teams — the Saints, 49ers, Seahawks and Chiefs, per ESPN — placed claims on Suggs. Thanks to Kansas City’s early-season losses to Indianapolis, Houston, Green Bay and Tennessee, it had the worst record of the bunch.”Coach (Andy) Reid called me,” Suggs said when asked why he agreed to report to a team not named the Ravens. “It didn’t take much convincing. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t fit in. And he was like, ’Trust me, you can fit in here.'” (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/ef/6c/terrell-suggs-013120-getty-ftrjpg_1m67eaa2vw0kn1ly8u822us0wa.jpg?t=-61178153&w=500&quality=80 (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/23/f1/terrell-suggs-013120-getty-ftrjpg_12ift72wfu6cp1khji0g0b2ir4.jpg?t=-61150089&w=500&quality=80 Cut by Cardinals, claimed by ChiefsOn Dec. 13, shortly after the Cardinals announced they had released Suggs, Kingsbury told reporters the decision was mutual. Still, it was considered a surprise.Suggs had signed with Arizona for personal reasons more so than football reasons. Why leave? The team had just three games left in what had become a lost season, and it could have opted to simply let Suggs’ contract expire as 2020 arrived. Why cut him?”As the season’s gone on, out of playoff contention, we wanted to see what we had in some younger players,” Kingsbury explained at the time. “We felt like it was the best move for both parties.” MIAMI — Terrell Suggs sat down at a table, clad in a bright red jersey and a matching red hat. This is what the 37-year-old edge rusher imagined for himself at this point in his NFL career, a fresh look with new colors after he had spent 16 years in Ravens purple and black.The seven-time Pro Bowler shook his head in disbelief, though, when asked by a reporter sitting at the same table whether he could have anticipated that his red hat would feature a Chiefs logo rather than a Cardinals logo, and that his red jersey would feature a Super Bowl 54 patch above his right breast. “I never in a million years at the end of last year,” Suggs said, pausing before continuing. “Y’all would have been like, ‘Yo, you’ll be playing in the Super Bowl with the Chiefs next year.’ … What?!”MORE: SN experts predict and make their picks for Super Bowl 54Suggs spent much of his teenage and early adult football life in Arizona, playing high school ball in a Phoenix suburb and setting records in college at Arizona State. He felt a return to the desert upon the expiration of his Ravens contract would be an ideal way to end what likely will be dubbed a Hall of Fame career, so he joined the Cardinals on a one-year deal in free agency. The plan was going smoothly until Arizona cut him just three weeks before the end of the 2019 regular season.Arizona at the time had just lost its sixth straight game to fall to 3-9-1. Suggs technically had started every game, racking up 5.5 sacks in the process, but his role had been reduced as the year progressed. Needless to say, even though he has played sparingly over the last month and a half in Kansas City, Suggs is relieved to have been picked up by the Chiefs.The relationship is mutually beneficial. Kansas City gets an injection of veteran leadership in its locker room and a situational boost to its pass rush. Suggs gets a trip to the Super Bowl for the second time in his career.This twist of fate occurred quickly. Below is a timeline that details how the Baltimore legend arrived in Kansas City after his 13-game detour in Arizona.End of Ravens careerBy the time Baltimore’s 2018 season ended with a wild-card playoff loss to the LA Chargers, “T-Sizzle” had played in 247 games for the Ravens and recorded a franchise record 132.5 sacks. The No. 10 overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft and 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year had never even flirted with free agency.He knew that would change in March of 2019, when the contract extension he signed in 2014 that paid him $28.5 million over four years was set to expire.”You don’t make a decision like that just spur of the moment,” Suggs told Sporting News at the Chiefs’ Super Bowl hotel. “I just kind of lived with it. Put it down, stopped thinking about it for a while. Was a dad.” Reid was right. The Chiefs, who in claiming Suggs agreed to pay the $352,941 left on his Cardinals contract, immediately benefited from his presence. Multiple players during Super Bowl week cited Suggs’ impact from a leadership perspective. On the field, he registered a sack in the Week 17 win over the LA Chargers that earned Kansas City a first-round playoff bye. He batted down a pass in a key moment of the AFC championship game against Tennessee.Now Suggs is back in the Super Bowl, and such an extreme rise in this portion of the rollercoaster he has experienced over the last year still baffles him.”This part is shocking,” a wide-eyed Suggs said, pointing at that Super Bowl patch on his bright red Chiefs jersey. “But it’s been a good shocking.”last_img read more