DAN BICKLEY

Arizona Cardinals Terrell Suggs isn’t the one to blame for his release

Dec 13, 2019, 4:47 PM | Updated: 10:06 pm
Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (56) celebrates his fumble recovery against the ...

Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (56) celebrates his fumble recovery against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

T. Sizzle has T. Fizzled. Just like most of Steve Keim’s recent acquisitions. It raises serious questions for those still wearing Big Red:

Out of antacid yet?

The piercing release of Terrell Suggs, a future Hall of Famer, is the fourth veteran waived by the cockiest 3-win team in history. He joins D.J. Swearinger, Michael Crabtree and Tramaine Brock as players who no longer fit the team’s current direction. The mutual divorce only empowers the lynch mob that wants Keim fired six minutes ago.

In reality, Suggs’ release is more palatable than his acquisition, when a desperate general manager was playing on our emotions while grasping at straws, haplessly attempting to fix Arizona’s broken defense.

But when Keim offered Suggs a contract worth $7 million guaranteed, he knowingly acquired a 37-year old pass rusher that was breaking down and not part of any future, overpaying horribly for a diminishing asset. Just like he did with Sam Bradford.

Media members in Baltimore immediately warned peers in Arizona: Suggs would be good for a couple of months, at best. Surely, Keim heard the same things. And if not, he’s really bad at his job.

But the signing of Suggs made casual Arizonans very happy. It was a headline and a homecoming over 15 years in the making. T. Sizzle was a mega-watt star at Arizona State and one of the worst draft picks the Cardinals never made. For a short time, he was beautiful proof that you can go home again.

Except Suggs had one good month in the desert. He had very little voice in Arizona. He rarely engaged emotionally, effectively turning off his charisma faucet. Suggs never felt at home in a second uniform, even if it was Arizona. Because Suggs is forever a Raven.

From the start, something was wrong with this story. You could feel it. You could hear it. The Ravens never cast Suggs aside like the Cowboys did with Emmitt Smith. To the contrary, they were stunned when he left.

Later, his former friend and teammate, Bart Scott, claimed that Suggs was purposely stealing money from the Cardinals, padding his own nest on his way out of the NFL. Because Suggs couldn’t command that kind of money from his beloved Ravens in good faith. He could only do that to a team like the Cardinals.

That means Suggs played Keim liked Keim played us. Paying attention, Michael Bidwill?

As a side note, it’s fascinating how the Ravens earn such loyalty, a devotion so fierce that Rams safety Eric Weddle wouldn’t tell his L.A. employers any secrets about the Ravens before the two teams met a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Suggs signed with Arizona because he knew he was nearly done; because he didn’t want to soil his on-field legacy or lose his starting job in Baltimore; and because he knew the Cardinals needed the propaganda value that came with signature.

Suggs was not released 48 hours before the last home game of the season as punishment for poor performance, for becoming a dissenting voice in the locker room. He was released for convenience. For Suggs’ silence and professional respect moving forward.

He was released because Arizona needs to give Haason Reddick one last real shot before offseason evaluations. Reddick is one of Keim’s more curious first-round draft selections and has been playing out of position all season long. He played out of position for the first 12 games of the season, mostly because the team had to accommodate Suggs, a maneuver that was more about nostalgia and spin control than fielding a really good defense in 2019.

There is no blaming Suggs in this story. He never promised too much, and was careful to not rally the fan base with his loquaciousness. The Cardinals were a money play for him and a public relations maneuver for the organization, nothing more.

He’s also proof of how bad Keim has become at his job.

Baltimore fans are already salivating at Friday’s developments. The idea of adding an emotional touchstone like Suggs to their dream season in progress, adding to Lamar Jackson’s MVP campaign and a potential Super Bowl run, is almost too good to be true. And in Arizona, uncomfortably numb football fans are left with anger, confusion and a wistful lament:

What happened to our moment in the sun? And when can we have a football team like the one they have in Baltimore? A team that’s passionate, dominant, and reflective of the city they represent. With no B.S. allowed.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@bonneville.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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