The Ravens reached agreement on a three-year contract with second-round draft selection Jamie Sharper yesterday, and the team will now turn its full attention to signing top draft pick Peter Boulware, the Florida State defensive end who is the only unsigned player among the team's 12 draftees.
Sharper, the outside linebacker from Virginia who is expected to start for the Ravens, ended his nine-day holdout from training camp by agreeing to a three-year deal worth $1.7 million, including a $727,000 signing bonus, according to sources from both sides.
The sides met early yesterday morning to work out the $10,000 difference that separated them from making the deal Monday night and discuss plans on how the signing bonus would be dispersed. Sharper is expected to begin practice today.
"We're glad to get Jamie Sharper in camp," said owner Art Modell. "That's one step, and now it's time to take it one more. We're communicating with Peter's people, and hopefully something will develop soon."
The Ravens have not spoken with Boulware's agents, Eugene Parker or Roosevelt Barnes, since last Friday. According to a team source, the club is not close to completing a deal, with the length of the contract still a problem.
Modell has already offered Boulware a $6.5 million signing bonus.
Neither Boulware nor his agents returned phone calls yesterday. Pat Moriarty, the Ravens' chief financial officer who is negotiating the deal, declined to comment on the specifics. Boulware was the draft's No. 4 overall pick.
"We haven't had a lot of activity in respect to Peter the last couple days because the Jamie Sharper deal was heating up fast," said Moriarty. "We focused there because we had a good chance of bringing Jamie in now. Most of the deals leading up to the top six are coming up, which is the usual trend."
Modell said Sharper's deal would have no bearing on Boulware's, and he agreed with Moriarty that a Boulware agreement might be reached after one or two other deals are completed among the top 10 picks.
The Ravens don't believe yesterday's signing of the second overall selection, Darrell Russell, by the Oakland Raiders, will have an effect on the Boulware deal. One of Boulware's agents, Parker, also represents Bryant Westbrook (fifth pick) and Walter Jones (sixth). The Ravens feel he'll package all three, getting Jones signed first, then Westbrook, then Boulware. Russell's seven-year, $22.5 million deal with the Raiders includes voidables that could turn it into a five-year deal for the same money.
The voidables has been a sticking point with Modell and he said he's not going to relent. "We won't change our mind," Modell said. "We have a good deal on the table right now, in line with [Russell's]. It's close. But there are no voidables, just a straight contract."
Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said he was more concerned with having Sharper in training camp than Boulware, though he preferred to have both.
Lewis said he thought Sharper had to make the bigger adjustment, even though he played outside linebacker in college.
"More than any other guy on this football team, Jamie Sharper needs to be here," said Lewis. "Peter's job is what he did in college. They just called him a defensive end. Assignment-wise, Jamie's role is very similar to what Ray Lewis had to do last year. But Ray had all the time we could offer while Jamie has missed almost two weeks."
Translation: Sharper will play on the weak side, where he will be uncovered. He will be expected to read keys, roam the field, cover the pass and be one of the leading tacklers on the team.
The Ravens brought in Boulware to help a pass rush that only had 30 sacks last season. He won't be asked to do the things Sharper will have to do.
"It's hard to pick up things against NFL offenses because they change from week to week," said Lewis. "The timing of passing games are different from team to team and, because of the talent of running backs, you have to be exact in gaps. It becomes an adjustment very week. The difference between the two positions those players will play is a whole different animal."
"We're glad to have our linebacker in," said coach Ted Marchibroda. "We'd like to have them both here, but without question, Sharper fills a big need for us."
Pub Date: 7/23/97