After the Houston Texans aggressively recruited veteran free safety Ed Reed for the past two days, he left Texas and returned to his home in Atlanta on Friday afternoon without agreeing to terms.
In what remains a fluid situation, the two sides are still haggling over money, but they're close enough that a deal could eventually happen. The 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year plans to contemplate his options over the weekend while attending to a previous obligation unrelated to football.
Reed is seeking a contract between $6 million and $7 million per year, while the Texans' offer is roughly $5million per year, according to league sources with knowledge of the situation. The two sides are scheduled to continue talking over the weekend. In the final year of his contract with the Ravens, Reed earned $7.2 million last season.
One source said that Reed's agent, David Dunn, is shopping the Texans' offer around the NFL.
The Ravens have remained in contact with Reed's representatives. Although they are still interested in the 34-year-old, their tight salary-cap situation and his asking price mean a return to Baltimore for Reed is far from a lock, a source said.
While Reed was in Houston on Friday, the Ravens reached an agreement in principle with former Dallas Cowboys starting defensive end Marcus Spears on a two-year, $3.55million contract.
Spears, 30, is scheduled to take a physical and sign his contract within the next three days.
As for Reed, his six-year, $44.5million contract expired after the season and he became an unrestricted free agent.
Reed was impressed with the Texans' sales pitch and felt comfortable during his two-day visit, sources close to the situation said.
And Reed shared that sentiment on Twitter while heading to the airport on his way out of the city. He wrote: "Houston is a good city, great time with everyone!"
Reed traveled to Houston with Texans general manager Rick Smith on owner Bob McNair's private jet, and he ate dinner Thursday night with coaches and two former University of Miami teammates -- wide receiver Andre Johnson, one of his closest friends, and center Chris Myers.
Johnson told Houston reporters, including The Houston Chronicle, on Friday that he remains upbeat about the Texans' chances of signing Reed.
"Ed said, 'Get me to Houston,'?" Johnson said. "I think we're going to get it done. Everything is positive. He's a good friend and a great player. He's a great leader and a ball hawk. I'd love to have him be part of our organization."
Despite an aggressive push to land Reed, the Texans' effort didn't result in the quick deal that many expected.
Whether Reed, who intercepted four passes last season and picked off San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the Super Bowl, goes on other visits remains unclear.
The Indianapolis Colts, coached by former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, have already addressed the safety position by signing LaRon Landry. The 49ers met with Louis Delmas and Charles Woodson, but Delmas re-signed with the Detroit Lions on a two-year deal.
The 49ers have yet to bring Reed in for a visit, but they are regarded as a potential suitor for the nine-time Pro Bowl selection. In addition to representing Reed, Dunn is also the agent for San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke.
For now, the Texans are the focus for Reed and his representatives. And the Ravens are intent on finding bargains that fit into their budget.
That includes continuing to talk with former Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison, according to his agent, Bill Parise.
Former Ravens strong safety Dawan Landry is another possibility for the Ravens after the Jacksonville Jaguars cut him earlier this week.
Spears, whom the Cowboys selected 20th overall in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft, was cut this year after signing a five-year, $19.2million contract in 2011. The 30-year-old has 226 career tackles and 10 sacks with three forced fumbles. Last season, he had 25 tackles and a sack in six starts.
At 6 feet 4, 315 pounds, the natural 3-4 defensive end was released after the Cowboys hired defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and changed their primary base defense to a 4-3.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has made strengthening the defensive line a priority. The team signed former New York Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty to a three-year, $8 million contract earlier this week. Friday's move reunites Spears and Canty after both entered the NFL with the Cowboys eight years ago.
"The base of a good defense is to be good along the defensive line," Newsome said in a statement. "We didn't play to our standards last season, partly because of injury. With the expected better health of players like Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee and the additions of Marcus Spears and Chris Canty, we have a chance to improve.
"Spears, like Canty, can play multiple positions along the line. He brings a lot of snaps and big-game experience to us. We like the way Marcus plays. He will fit in with the Ravens way of playing."
Meanwhile, tight end Dennis Pitta, who was assigned a second-round tender of $2.023 million, was the subject of two preliminary inquiries from NFL teams, according to sources.
Because Pitta wasn't assigned the first-round tender of $2.879 million, the Ravens are slightly vulnerable if another team submits an offer sheet. They own the right to match any offer sheet. If they didn't opt to match, and no one has submitted an offer at this time, they would be compensated with a second-round draft pick.
The restricted free agent market is notoriously dead, but NFL teams do have a high opinion of Pitta. It's unclear if the interest will translate into any action regarding him, though.
The Miami Dolphins, who had a high grade on Pitta coming out of BYU, filled a vacancy at tight end with former New York Jets starter Dustin Keller on Friday.
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin returned to the United States on Friday following his relief trip to Senegal. The soonest he would take a physical with the 49ers to complete his trade from Baltimore would be Monday. After Boldin declined a $2 million reduction of his $6 million base salary, the Ravens traded him to the 49ers in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick.
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