Pass rush upgrade in offing Ravens, McCrary talk

DE had 13 sacks in '96

April 05, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Ravens, determined to upgrade their defense before the NFL draft in two weeks, are closing in on an agreement with Seattle Seahawks free-agent defensive end Michael McCrary.

McCrary, who blossomed in his fourth season with the Seahawks last year and finished second in the NFL with 13 1/2 sacks, spent much of yesterday with his agent, Michael George, at the Ravens' Owings Mills complex.

A source said George and the Ravens are discussing a three- or four-year deal that would average nearly $2 million per season. McCrary also reportedly has listened to offers from the &r Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles.

"We have no deal yet. Close, but no cigar," said Ravens owner Art Modell, who talked with McCrary. "We'll be talking over the weekend. Hopefully, we'll make an announcement early next week."

McCrary, 6 feet 4, 260 pounds, was drafted in the seventh round out of Wake Forest in 1993, and after three seasons as a part-time player with the Seahawks, he was forced to take a pay cut to remain on their roster last year. He earned $225,000.

Seattle ended up with quite a bargain. Early in the third game of the season, starting right end Antonio Edwards suffered a knee injury, forcing McCrary into the lineup. McCrary responded by seizing the position and starting the final 13 games. Along with his sacks, which included three against Pro Bowl left tackle Tony Boselli in a game against Jacksonville, McCrary proved to be a capable run stopper with 76 tackles.

"This kid had a lot of sacks in college," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel. "Sometimes, you never know about a player until his third or fourth year."

Should the Ravens sign McCrary, they presumably would stop pursuing free agent Anthony Pleasant, and may alter their draft-day decision-making in the first round.

The Ravens have expressed interest in taking Florida State defensive end Peter Boulware with the No. 4 pick. Boulware is the highest-rated pass rusher available. But with veteran left end Rob Burnett scheduled to return this year -- he missed most of last season with a knee injury -- the Ravens might turn their focus to a blue-chip linebacker like Alabama's Dwayne Rudd or Virginia's James Farrior.

"[McCrary's signing] will change our thinking about the draft and a few other things," Modell said.

Pub Date: 4/05/97

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