The end of the season isn’t just near, it could mark the end for Ed Reed, too.
At least, in Baltimore.
The safety, in his 11th year with the Ravens, doesn’t have a contract beyond this season, and he threatened to hold out before training camp. He didn’t.
Even though Reed, 34, was about to be fined for a second time by the NFL for a helmet-to-helmet hit, and he was being asked about his lack of a contract for 2013, he was in a good mood going into the season finale at the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
“My focus is to finish this season off right now and prepare for the playoffs and go from there,” said Reed, who is tied for a team-high four interceptions and was named to his ninth Pro Bowl. “As far as my future, it’s all about the near future. … It’s not about off-season.”
In the Ravens’ 44-13 opening win vs. the Bengals on Sept. 10, Reed returned an interception of Andy Dalton 34 yards for a touchdown. The play set a record for interception return yardage. He has more than 1,500.
Reed has tied a career-high with 16 pass deflections this season and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning paid him the highest compliment before their game two weeks ago by saying he’s still the best safety in the NFL.
“It’s definitely not what it used to be when I was 24 versus 34. But that’s where the mental part comes into it,” Reed said. “You slow down physically, but mentally you get a lot stronger and you understand the game more which allows me to play the game a certain way.”
Playing with torn cartilage in his shoulder since Week 3, Reed sometimes has trouble wrapping up on tackles.
He also has been fined a total of $105,000 for what has deemed unsafe hits on defenseless receivers. It has been a source of frustration for Reed, who had a one-game suspension from the NFL overturned last month.
Still, he’s not focusing too much on what will be a Hall of Fame career whenever he decides to retire. Reed, who prides himself on coaching his sons to play football, has 61 career interceptions but not a Super Bowl ring.
“I’d rather be a Hall of Fame dad,” he said.