Bankston rejects Ravens to stay with Cardinals Baltimore offer was lower than expected, agent says

April 03, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Ravens' pursuit of Arizona defensive end Michael Bankston ended unsuccessfully yesterday when Bankston agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Cardinals. The Ravens then turned their focus to re-signing free-agent defensive end Anthony Pleasant.

Bankston elected to return to the team that drafted him in 1992 for a single-season package worth about $1.2 million, rather than take a three-year offer from the Ravens worth $3.5 million.

Gene Burrough, Bankston's agent, said the player, a five-year veteran who was fifth on the Cardinals with 89 tackles last year and has not missed a start since 1993, hopes to test the free-agent market again next year. Then the league's salary cap could rise well above its current level of $41.45 million.

Other than the Cardinals, the Ravens were the only team seriously interested in Bankston, who, at 6 feet 3, 280 pounds, can play end or tackle. Burrough said the deal unraveled after the Ravens made an offer substantially lower than what he expected.

Before Bankston visited the Ravens last week, Burrough said he and the Ravens had talked favorably about a three-year deal in the $4.5 million to $5 million range. Then, when he listened to a proposal from Ravens chief financial officer Pat Moriarty on Tuesday night, Burrough said the numbers dropped to an unacceptable level.

"They had a golden opportunity to get a good, young player for three years, and maybe for the rest of his career. The Cardinals were pretty much giving them free rein to sign the kid," Burrough said. "The Ravens gave us an acceptable range before the visit, but then they started negotiating $1 million below the range.

"Obviously, there's a communication problem between departments in that organization. Unless their offer was at least close to what we were expecting, we had no incentive to leave. It was a good offer, but much less than what we expected."

Said Moriarty: "You have to have a price for a player, and it's not just one thing. You look at what you feel the player is worth, the availability of the player, and you look at the market. The risk he [Bankston] takes is that he gets hurt this year or doesn't have a good year, or that the market is not what he thinks it will be like next year."

"We're happy with what we offered. We gave it a good run and we came up short," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel. "But we're going to sign a defensive end."

Moriarty spent part of yesterday talking with agent Neil Cornrich about a multi-year deal for Pleasant, who has spent his entire career with the organization. The Cleveland Browns drafted Pleasant in 1990.

Pleasant is coming off an injury-ravaged season that was the worst of his career. He visited the Atlanta Falcons last month, and has attracted interest from several other teams, said Cornrich.

Pub Date: 4/03/97

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