Ed Reed celebrated Mardi Gras in his home state. (Dan Anderson / EPA)

With NFL free agency opening at 4 p.m. EDT today, Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed did something most un-Ed Reed-like: he hired an agent for the first time Monday, a move that was quickly followed by reports that he’d end up in San Francisco.

Reed, the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year and the NFL leader in interceptions the last three years, will have far more options if he hits the market. There’s the lengthy man crush that New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick has had on Reed, the one player besides Tom Brady that he causes him to speak in multiple sentences. For his part, last week, Reed told the NFL Network’s “NFL AM” that New England would have won two more Super Bowls with him on the roster.

There’s also a significant connection in Indianapolis, with Chuck Pagano the former Ravens defensive coordinator. Reed is close to wide receiver Reggie Wayne, so close that the agent he hired, David Dunn, also represnts Wayne. The 49ers’ connection, besides Reed’s friend Boldin? Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is a former Ravens assistant.

It seems unthinkable that the Ravens would take the field in the fall without Ray Lewis and Reed and it isn’t necessarily a lock that he will leave. General Manager Ozzie Newsome has, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson, “expressed confidence” the team will be able to keep Reed. And Reed has said the things you’d expect Reed to say.

“I’m a Raven, I plan on being a Raven,” he told the NFL Network’s Gregg Rosenthal a week ago. ” I couldn’t see me anywhere else right now. If it happens, I’m a football player. I can adapt to any situation.”

On Monday night, he elaborated on that with CBS Baltimore’s Glenn Younes, saying:

“We’re football players. We’re bred to play football. I can play football anywhere: rain, sleet or snow, on the moon — catch a pick. Who does that? [laughs] It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter. I’m going to let the business side take care of things. I know after 11 years where I’d like to play football, where I want to play football. … I know sometimes that’s not the case. It doesn’t work out for either side. It’s a business and you have to adapt to the business as well.”

The Ravens, as Wilson notes, let Lewis check out free agency and he returned. But things are different now and the Super Bowl champions were reeling after the trade of wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the 49ers on Monday afternoon.



By early evening, at a party to premiere the Super Bowl DVD, players had had time to digest the news. Smith said (via the Baltimore Sun) that he was “definitely shocked. You lose a great guy, a great leader, a mentor. You lose all of that,” Smith said. “It’s tough for everyone, not just myself. Obviously, it will probably mean a little more responsibility but I had that last year and the year before that. It’s going to be hard. The biggest thing is not so much about football when you lose someone like that, a mentor, a big brother, somebody you love like a brother and would do anything for you. It’s tough.”

Quarterback Joe Flacco, who was given a rich contract earlier this month, said: “It’s sad to see a guy like that go, but at the same time you want what’s best for him and you just wish him the best of luck. Anquan was a big part of this football team, a big part of this offense. He’s one of the main reasons we won the Super Bowl this year.”

The Ravens’ wide receivers credited Boldin with a lot of their success. “We learned a lot of routes from him, how he thinks, what he sees,” Jacoby Jones said. “He passed that on to us and he did what he had to do. That’s why it’s a business, man. Those things are going to happen. I wish Q the best. He’s always a Raven with me. We got something that you can never take from us so I wish him the best.”

Now, it’s on to clock-watching with Reed.

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