Everitt's agent questions Ravens' long-term interest Team refuses to move from 1-year offer to center

June 05, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Ravens center Steve Everitt has started all but three games since the team formerly known as the Cleveland Browns made him their top draft pick in 1993, but Everitt probably will hope to find a new team after this season.

John Macik, Everitt's agent, said he has been trying to get the veteran a long-term contract extension since last spring. But the Everitt Ravens have not budged from the one-year qualifying offer of $785,000 they tendered Everitt in February.

Everitt, a restricted free agent who earned $729,700 last season -- including a base salary of $295,000 -- in the final season of a three-year contract, must accept the one-year offer by June 15, or he will be forced to play for no less than 10 percent above last year's base salary in 1996.

"We've gotten to the point where it has caused us to question their long-term plans for Steve," said Macik, who wants at least a two-year extension. "It's a breakdown of the bargaining process. Steve deserves more than that. If he takes a one-year deal, he's going to be in a good situation to go somewhere else. He is not a happy camper right now."

The Ravens have designated Everitt as a transition player. Under that designation, after this season -- Everitt's fourth -- he would have to be paid at least the average of the top 10 centers' salaries in the NFL for the 1997 season.

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' director of football operations, said that average will be around $1.8 million.

"We know how much we've got to pay him to keep him on the team for two more years. We'll continue to talk with Steve," Newsome said. "We've got the guy, and we like him."

As a restricted free agent this year, Everitt could have listened to other offers, but any team that signed him would have been required to give up first-round compensation in next year's draft. On top of that, the Ravens have the right of first refusal, meaning they could match any offer to retain Everitt automatically. Those offers were not forthcoming.

NOTE: The contract talks with top draft pick Jonathan Ogden are in the early stages. Ogden's agent, Marvin Demoff, has not returned repeated calls. Ogden's father, Shirrel, said, "My gut feeling is that Jon will not be in training camp on day one. It could happen. I hope it happens. But I don't think it will."

Pub Date: 6/05/96

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