At 34, Ed Reed isn’t the same ball-hawking safety that won the 2004 AP Defensive Player of the Year Award. He missed multiple tackles this year, most vividly when Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno hurdled him in Week 15.
Reed picked off four passes in 2012, finishing below his 5.5 interception-per-season average and lending credence to the consensus that he has lost a step.
Yet Reed was voted to his ninth Pro Bowl even though he had an average season by NFL standards.
Pro Bowl voting is little more than a popularity contest where big names get too much credit and upstarts get snubbed, but it proves that Reed is still relevant to his peers, coaches and fans.
Baltimore would love to keep their 2002 first round draft pick in purple and black for his entire career, and Reed would love to stick around. But GM Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens have a lot of expensive decisions to make with important pieces like quarterback Joe Flacco, outside linebacker Paul Kruger and cornerback Cary Williams hitting the open market as well.
A personnel man as astute as Newsome realizes with linebacker Ray Lewis retiring and Reed, defensive lineman Haloti Ngata and top pass rusher Terrell Suggs wearing down, Baltimore’s power is shifting to the offensive side of the ball.
The following five teams - seeking stability and leadership in their defensive backfield - could lure Reed away from the defending Super Bowl Champions.