Ravens close in on Everitt Center of attention meets agent to mull 5-year, $10M deal here

Jets' Parcells admits defeat

G Blackshear agrees in principle to stay

March 04, 1997|By GARY LAMBRECHT | GARY LAMBRECHT,SUN STAFF

The Ravens and center Steve Everitt, who has been shopping on the free-agent market for the past two weeks, are moving toward an agreement on a new contract that could be announced this week.

Everitt has listened to offers from the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets, as well as the Ravens. Last night, a day after returning from New York -- where the Jets offered him a five-year deal worth up to $11.8 million, including a $1.5 million signing bonus and a guarantee of $3.3 million -- Everitt flew to Miami to meet with his agent, John Macik.

The Ravens have offered Everitt a five-year contract worth $10 million, and the deal includes a $2.5 million signing bonus. Everitt would make at least $3.2 million in the first year of the deal, which could include a club option in the final year.

"We've made progress," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel. "Steve and John are discussing what we have on the table, and we're going to do what we have to do to get him signed. Hopefully, it will be this week. He's a priority."

Said Macik: "I like the movement I'm seeing on some issues [regarding the Ravens' offer]. Steve is going through the mental gymnastics that a 27-year-old goes through when he makes a lifetime decision. We told everybody we were going to take two weeks and make a decision. Now, we have to sit down, look at what we've learned and try to make one, based on the information we have."

Two weeks ago, the Eagles offered Everitt a six-year, $11.5 million contract that includes a $600,000 signing bonus and guaranteed money through the first two years.

A league source said the Eagles, because of cash flow problems, are fading in the race to get Everitt.

And yesterday, Jets coach Bill Parcells sounded pessimistic about New York's chances of signing Everitt, considered the best center in this year's free-agent crop.

When asked about Everitt, Parcells told a group of New York reporters, "I don't think that's going to work. It may, but I will be surprised. I wouldn't say it's over, but I think he'll be somewhere else."

The first draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 1993, Everitt has been the franchise's starting center for most of his four NFL seasons. After playing out his first three-year contract, Everitt was designated as the Browns' transition player, making him a restricted free agent.

The team then extended him a one-year qualifying offer for the 1996 season, for which Everitt was paid $785,000.

Everitt spent the first half of the year anchoring one of the best offensive lines in the league, and appeared to be headed for his first Pro Bowl until he tore a pectoral muscle in the seventh game. He missed all but one game after that.

Last month, the Ravens removed the transition tag from Everitt, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.

"It's good that Steve has finished his concert tour of the NFL," said David Modell, the Ravens' executive vice president. "Now, we're able to enter into meaningful negotiations that all parties seem to feel will bear fruit."

In other news, the Ravens have reached an agreement in principle with free-agent guard Jeff Blackshear, who visited the New England Patriots last weekend.

Blackshear, acquired by the Ravens last year through a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, started 12 games at right guard. With Jonathan Ogden slated to move from left guard to left tackle, the Ravens figure to pencil in Blackshear as a starter going into training camp.

"We still have some details to be worked out, but we have an understanding," said Pat Moriarty, the Ravens' chief financial officer.

NOTE: The Maryland General Assembly will honor the Ravens today, in particular quarterback Vinny Testaverde and linebacker Ray Lewis. Testaverde will be saluted for making his first Pro Bowl. Lewis will be honored for making the NFL's All-Rookie team.

Pub Date: 3/04/97

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