Free-agent safety Ed Reed is moving on, agreeing to terms on a two-year contract with the Houston Texans Wednesday night, as first reported by Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.
Reed, one of the Ravens’ cornerstone pieces for 11 seasons and one of the most decorated safeties in NFL history, visited the Texans last week but left last Friday without a deal.
While reports surfaced on Tuesday about Reed, 34, being offered a three-year deal in the range of $4 million annually, La Canfora noted that he wouldn’t be surprised if Reed’s deal is closer to $6 million per season.
Reed, whom the Ravens selected with 24th overall pick during the 2002 NFL draft, becomes the sixth defensive starter to depart Baltimore following last season’s Super Bowl win and seventh overall.
His exit and the release of strong safety Bernard Pollard leaves the Ravens without their two starting safeties from last season. They did re-sign fifth-year veteran James Ihedigbo last week to a one-year deal, but the other safeties on the roster — including Omar Brown, Anthony Levine, Emanuel Cook and Christian Thompson — have no starting experience and weren’t even on the active roster last season.
Reed’s loss continues a movement that has seen the Ravens opt to go younger, cheaper and faster.
Center Matt Birk and middle linebacker Ray Lewis retired. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick. Guard Bobbie Williams and Pollard were cut. Linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe and cornerback Cary Williams all left via free agency, signing contracts with the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.
Despite playing with a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder, Reed started every game this past season and finished tied for the team lead with four interceptions.
Reed, the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, is the Ravens’ franchise leader in interceptions with 61 and has the most of any active player. The five-time first-team All-Pro selection is 10th on the all-time list, and his 1,541 return yards are an NFL record.
Reed has 14 touchdowns in his career, and he’s the only player in league history to score on a punt return, a blocked punt, interception and fumble recovery.
With Reed moving on, the Ravens have scheduled a visit with Oakland Raiders free-agent safety Michael Huff.
For Ravens fans, the inevitable has become a harsh reality: they’ll have come to terms that Lewis and Reed, the deans of one of the NFL’s most feared defenses over the last decade, won’t be dawning the purple and black anymore.