What does Ed Reed's future hold?

What does Ed Reed's future hold?
January 30, 2013, 9:30 pm
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Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel on Ray Lewis' week and Ed Reed's future

As the Ray Lewis retirement tour hits its crescendo in New Orleans this week, Ravens safety Ed Reed has repeatedly said Sunday's Super Bowl will not be his final game.

Reed stated unequivocally last week -- as unequivocally as Reed can -- that he will be back next season. The big question is, where? Is it conceivable Reed  could be wearing a Patriots uniform next season?

The short answer is yes. As the Ravens prepared to leave for New Orleans last week, Reed stood before the media and said, "I'll be playing next year, if that's what you're asking. Next question."

But assuming he doesn't change his mind -- and you can bet he will float the retirement talk sometime this summer, as he has the past few years -- it's unclear what uniform he'll be wearing as he begins the 2013 season, which would be his 12th in the NFL.

Reed is making about $7 million this season, the final year of a six-year, $40 million contract extension he signed in 2006. Like Joe Flacco, Reed is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the Super Bowl.

Make no mistake: Flacco will be with the Ravens next season, either because he will have signed a long-term deal or because the Ravens will have slapped the franchise tag on him. Reed's contract, on the other hand, becomes something of the elephant in the room.

Do the Ravens shell out big money for a player who will be 35 next season? That seems to go against owner Steve Bisciotti's stated formula to focus big paydays on ascending players, a la Lardarius Webb. But do they let one of the cornerstones of the franchise walk away? They let Matt Stover and Todd Heap walk.

At Super Bowl Media Day, general manager Ozzie Smith said, "I’m going to sit down and talk with Ed once it’s all said and done. I know he’s totally focused on winning this game in his hometown, and then once the air clears, Ed and I have gotten to a point where he and I can really talk man-to-man, and I think we’ll be able to have that conversation a week or two from now.”

It hasn't all been roses between the Ravens and Reed. Last spring, Reed hinted that he felt disrespected the Ravens hadn't worked out a long-term extension.  

But if he weren't with the Ravens, where might Reed end up?

SI.com's Peter King speculated that Reed could end up with the Patriots, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick is an unabashed Reed fan. In New Orleans this week, Reed told the Boston Herald that, "I could definitely play for coach Belichick.

He is a great coach. I'm sure he can help me to expand my football knowledge even more as a player and as a coach, so if I'm ever able to be around him, just like I was at the Pro Bowl, it's huge ... . It's just a blessing to even have met, to know coach Belichick."

Reed can be virtually impossible to read at times, but at Super Bowl Media Day, he said he'd love to finish his career in Baltimore.

"I always said when I came into the league and got drafted that I didn’t want to be one of those guys jumping from team to team," Reed said. "If it was up to me, I would be right in Baltimore. If it happens to be somewhere else, I can play football on the moon.”