Negotiations between the Ravens and the agent for second-round draft pick Jamie Sharper intensified yesterday as both sides drew closer to agreement on a three-year contract that could be announced as soon as today.
Sharper's agent, Tony Agnone, met with Ravens chief financial officer Pat Moriarty for more than six hours in the first serious talks between the two parties.
Sharper and top draft pick Peter Boulware, whom the Ravens project as their starting outside linebackers this season, extended their training-camp holdouts to eight days.
This past weekend, the Ravens decided to focus their attention on Sharper.
"We've made some progress trying to bridge the gap to allow Jamie to get to work. We're hoping we can get this to resolution by [today]," Agnone said. "If not, it's not from Pat or myself not working hard enough."
A source close to the negotiations said Sharper is mulling a package in the $1.7 million range. The offer includes a signing bonus of at least $700,000.
"I wouldn't say we're close, but we've had some serious, serious discussion that could lead to an agreement soon that is mutually satisfying to both sides," team owner Art Modell said.
With the Ravens preparing to scrimmage the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday, and with the preseason opener against the New York Giants looming Aug. 2, the effort to get Sharper and Boulware into training camp is heading into a crucial stage. Boulware, a defensive end from Florida State, is making the transition to outside linebacker, a position he has not previously played.
Until yesterday, Agnone and the Ravens reportedly were at an impasse involving the amount of Sharper's signing bonus. A source said the Ravens upped their bonus offer by about $75,000, thus moving the deal close to completion.
Sharper was the fourth pick of the second round and the 34th draft choice overall.
New York Jets lineman Rick Terry, who was picked at the top of the round, three slots ahead of Sharper, recently signed a three-year, $1.73 million contract that included a $720,000 bonus. Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Nathan Davis, selected two spots ahead of Sharper, has agreed to a three-year deal worth $1.74 million, including a $662,000 bonus.
Since the Ravens expect Sharper to start, Agnone has said he wants his client to be paid like the top pick of the second round.
While the Sharper talks were heating up, things remained quiet on the Boulware front. The Ravens did not conduct talks last weekend with Boulware's agents, Eugene Parker and Roosevelt Barnes.
Negotiations between the Ravens and Boulware hit a snag last week over the length of the contract. Parker has backed off on his original demands for voidable clauses in the deal.
The Ravens reportedly are ready to pay Boulware -- the fourth overall pick in the draft who is switching from defensive end to strong-side linebacker -- a signing bonus in the $6.5 million range as part of a package that is expected to average around $2.2 million per season.
Without Boulware and Sharper in camp, the Ravens are going through two-a-day practices with only six linebackers, with second-year player Ray Lewis the only veteran among them.
Since camp opened July 14, sixth-round draft pick Cornell Brown and rookie free agent Bernard Russ have been taking the places of Boulware and Sharper.
If Sharper agrees to a contract today, he probably will not practice with the Ravens at Western Maryland College until tomorrow.
Ravens' camp at a glance
Where: Western Maryland College, Westminster
Practices: Camp runs through Aug. 14. All practices are free and open to the public. Times are from 9 a.m. to 11: 30 a.m. and 2: 45 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Ravens will practice at Memorial Stadium on Sunday at 2: 30 p.m.
First scrimmage The Ravens will play the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
What to bring: Pens for autographs, a camera and plenty of sunscreen
What not to bring: Alcohol, pets, bottles, cans or camcorders
Hot line: 410-261-FANS
Directions from Baltimore: Take I-695 to Exit 19 to I-795 north to its end. Follow signs to Westminster via Route 140 north to Route 97 north. Turn left on exit ramp onto Pennsylvania Avenue. Go about one mile and turn left on Monroe Street. Turn right at Winters Alley. Parking lot is on left.
Date .. .. ..Opponent .. .. .. .. ..Time
8-2 .. .. ...N.Y. Giants .. .. ...8 p.m.
8-8 .. .. ...at N.Y. Jets .. .. ..8 p.m.
8-16 .. .. ..at Philadelphia .. ..8 p.m.
8-22 .. .. ..Buffalo .. .. .. .7:30 p.m.
Pub Date: 7/22/97