Ogden talks keep Ravens on sidelines Team reluctant to sign others until No. 1 pick OKs deal

D. Modell 'very optimistic'

Veteran Griffin still could be cut

July 11, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

As the negotiations between the Ravens and No. 1 draft pick Jonathan Ogden continued for the third day, the effects were being felt throughout the organization.

"Our ship is at port now," said team vice president Ozzie Newsome, 24 hours after the team cut popular veterans Andre Rison and Pepper Johnson, and then added receivers Floyd Turner and Calvin Williams.

"All we can do is sit, wait and then pop in Ogden's numbers," said Newsome. "After he gets signed, it's like dominoes. Everything falls into place."

The Ravens have a designated pool of $3.3 million to sign their seven rookies, with the bulk being allocated to sign their two No. 1 draft picks in Ogden, the UCLA left offensive tackle, and Miami linebacker Ray Lewis. Ogden was the fourth pick overall and Lewis No. 26.

But the delay in signing Ogden has caused a backup in pursuing the six other rookies and free agents such as linebackers Mike Croel and Gerald Williams and running back Gary Brown.

The Ravens are even hesitant to cut veteran cornerback Don Griffin. When Baltimore cut Rison and Johnson, nearly $2.7 million became available, Newsome said. If the Ogden deal hits a snag because of money, the Ravens can cut Griffin and save another $925,000.

Ravens executive vice president David Modell, reached late last night in Los Angles, said the team is close to signing Ogden to a six- or seven-year contract, but the two sides won't talk again until tomorrow or Saturday.

The Ravens had hoped to complete the deal last night with Marvin Demoff, Ogden's agent.

"I think everything is going well and our sessions have been very productive," said Modell. "Both Marvin and I are going to take some time off, then talk again in a few days. We basically have the formation of the deal, just some detail to work out.

"I'm very optimistic Mr. Ogden will be in uniform when camp opens," said Modell.

Demoff agreed.

"We've made significant progress in the last three days, more progress than I ever thought we would make. That gives me reason to be optimistic about Jonathan being in camp on time. Jonathan has always expressed a desire to be in camp on time and ready to play."

Demoff said the two sides were close to a basic agreement.

"We have concepts, and they have been very flexible and understanding about my concerns. The Ravens have negotiated in good faith, and Jonathan has been an active participant, which has helped both sides. We are taking a break, both sides, to clear our minds and maybe we can bridge some differences. But we're very happy with the progress."

Lewis' agent Drew Rosenhaus said that his client had agreed to a four-year deal with the Ravens, but hinted everything was on hold.

"I thought it was going to get done [yesterday] but, we're in a holding pattern like everybody else," said Rosenhaus.

David Modell said he will speak with Pat Moriarty, the team's director of business operations, today about completing the deals of the other rookies. The rookies report to training camp Monday at Western Maryland College.

"We've had enough discussions during the last couple of days to know which direction we're going with Jonathan Ogden, and I think we can work out a solution where we can get the others signed now with Jonathan's deal being finalized," said Modell.

One of the free agents on hold was Croel. The former Broncos and Giants linebacker is asking for a one-year deal worth $275,000.

The Ravens also have hopes of signing former Pittsburgh SteelerGerald Williams and former Houston Oiler Brown, but Brown visited with the Cincinnati Bengals last night, and could sign with the team this morning.

Newsome said he has had brief conversations and exchanged counterproposals with the agent of Maryland wide receiver Jermaine Lewis, taken in the fifth round by the Ravens.

Pub Date: 7/11/96

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