Broncos-Jones deal is down to numbers Denver tries to rework Ravens vet's contract

February 11, 1997|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens and Denver Broncos spent most of yesterday restructuring the contract of Tony Jones in a deal that would send the veteran left offensive tackle to the Broncos in exchange for a possible second-round pick in the 1997 draft.

Ravens owner Art Modell said last night the deal was dependent only on the Broncos working out a contract with Jones' agent, Tom Condon, that would make the deal "salary-cap friendly" for Denver. The actual trade can't take place until Friday, a date established by the league.

Jones also confirmed last night that his agent was working with both sides. The completion of the deal would give the Ravens the 56th pick overall from Denver. The Ravens, 4-12 last season, would also have the fourth pick in each of the first two rounds, and four selections in the first 64 slots.

Also yesterday, Ravens wide receiver coach Mike Sheppard turned down an offer to become the offensive coordinator of the New York Jets and will remain with the Ravens.

As for the trade of Jones, 30, the player said: "It's not a done deal yet, but something should be completed soon. It's all about numbers now."

Details of the possible contract were not available, but it was expected that $2.9 million of it would count against the salary cap for the 1997 and 1998 seasons, $1.25 million in base salary for each of those years. The money and his age worked against Jones with the Ravens, especially with rookie left guard Jonathan Ogden willing and waiting to play left tackle.

Jones has been starting left tackle for the Ravens/Browns since 1991, but he became expendable immediately following the 1996 season. The Ravens were impressed with the development of Ogden, the team's No. 1 draft pick, and felt it was time to move the former UCLA All-American back to his natural position.

"I knew something was going to happen. I didn't expect to play for the Ravens for another season," said Jones. "I heard some rumors so I figured something would be done soon."

Jones had a decent season in 1996 and received a couple of votes from his peers in the Pro Bowl voting. A number of teams showed interest in trading for him, including the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants and Denver.

If the Ravens receive a No. 2 pick for Jones, it would be a successful trade because the team might have been forced to cut him without getting any compensation.

"A left tackle is very important in this league, and there was a lot of interested parties and competition," said Ozzie Newsome, the team's vice president of pro personnel.

The Broncos became in need of a left tackle when 11-year veteran Gary Zimmerman, a seven-time All-Pro selection, announced his retirement at the end of the season. Denver feels it has a veteran team that has a shot at the Super Bowl next season, and doesn't want an inexperienced tackle protecting the blindside of quarterback John Elway.

Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan did not return phone calls to his hotel room in Indianapolis yesterday, where his staff was watching the final day of the NFL scouting combine.

"Tony Jones has been a major part of the Cleveland Browns and then the Baltimore Ravens," said Modell. "He has been a solid player and great family man. I wish him nothing but the best."

Sheppard was an assistant under Bill Belichick for three seasons when both were with the Cleveland Browns. As interim coach of the Jets, Belichick had already hired two Ravens officials, one as an assistant and the other in the team's front office. Bill Parcells replaced Belichick as the Jets' coach yesterday.

"I think we're all pretty happy with Mike's decision," said Newsome.

NOTES: The No. 79 that Ogden wore at UCLA from 1992 to 1995 will be retired, the Orange County Register reported. Ogden, who became the school's first Outland Trophy winner in 1995 and then became the fourth overall pick by the Ravens, will become only the eighth Bruins football player to have his jersey retired. Ogden was a freshman All-American, a sophomore All-American, a two-time All-Pacific-10 pick and a consensus All-America choice as a senior. The number will be retired officially in ceremonies Feb. 19 at Pauley Pavilion at the UCLA-USC basketball game. Negotiations between the Ravens and restricted free-agent center Steve Everitt are expected to resume today. The team has offered Everitt a five-year package worth $9 million, but the fourth-year center wants a five-year deal for $15 million. Both sides have shown signs they are willing to move off their initial offers, according to a source close to the negotiations.

Pub Date: 2/11/97

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