McCrary may join Ravens today Pass rusher expected to lTC sign three-year deal

April 07, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Barring a last-minute snafu, free-agent defensive end Michael McCrary officially will become a member of the Ravens today.

According to Michael George, McCrary's agent, he and the Ravens have reached an agreement in principle on a contract worth $6 million over three years. The deal includes a $1.9 million signing bonus.

The Ravens are aiming to sign McCrary by this afternoon, when they hope to introduce him at a news conference.

"We're pretty well set on three years, and Mike is really happy with the situation," George said. "Mike was getting restless. It's not just the money. He wants to get into an off-season program and get back into football."

McCrary visited six teams, and listened to offers from Philadelphia and Seattle. Originally, the Seahawks were hoping to retain him with a multi-year deal averaging about $1.8 million. But after the Seahawks signed linebacker Chad Brown for $24 million over six years, including a $7 million bonus, they reduced their offer to McCrary to about $1 million for one season.

George said the Eagles have made a competitive offer, but McCrary likes the idea of playing on grass. He also would like to be closer to home. He is from Vienna, Va.

"The broad parameters of a contract have been agreed to," Ravens owner Art Modell said. "Some unresolved issues have to be worked out, issues that I don't believe are deal breakers. We intend to do that [this] morning."

By signing McCrary, the Ravens will be addressing their most urgent need -- a bona fide pass rusher. After spending his first three seasons with Seattle as a part-time player, McCrary came into his own last season after replacing the injured Antonio Edwards.

McCrary, 6 feet 4, 260 pounds, started the final 13 games and finished tied for second in the NFL with 13 1/2 sacks. All his sacks came over the season's last eight games, and he also proved to be a fine run stopper by recording 76 tackles. And he did it all after playing for only $225,000.

"He was unstoppable as the season wore on," George said of McCrary, a seventh-round draft choice out of Wake Forest in 1993. "I think he is a terrific acquisition for the Ravens. He's one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL. He's going to anchor the right side of their line and help them build up their defense from there."

The Ravens fielded one of the worst defenses in the league during their inaugural 4-12 season. They managed only 30 sacks as a team, the fewest in the NFL.

Ravens officials say they originally ranked McCrary as the best pass rusher on the free-agent market, but they did not view him as affordable.

At first, McCrary was looking for a multi-year deal averaging $3 million. When that price dropped -- and after the Ravens lost out in their bid to sign Arizona end Michael Bankston last week -- the Ravens went after McCrary.

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda was sold on McCrary's talent after watching a tape of him in action against Jacksonville last year. Facing Pro Bowl left tackle Tony Boselli, McCrary had three sacks.

"[McCrary] has the type of motor you need in order to be a great pass rusher, and he plays the run extremely well," Marchibroda said. "He gives you everything he has on every play. We're real happy with him. I hope we sign him."

By signing McCrary, the Ravens will break a free-agent drought that has frustrated the organization. Over the past month, the Ravens have come up short in efforts to sign Bankston and Dallas linebacker Broderick Thomas, and they failed to re-sign center Steve Everitt, who joined Philadelphia.

In addition, after agreeing to terms with Dallas safety Brock Marion, the Ravens discovered that the fractured shoulder blade he suffered last year has not healed. The Ravens have since received assurances that Marion should be ready to play a full season in 1997, but he remains unsigned.

Pub Date: 4/07/97

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