Ravens owner Art Modell said yesterday that he has offered Peter Boulware a contract similar to the one signed by Oakland Raiders rookie Darrell Russell last week, but Modell also said he is starting to become impatient with the top draft pick's 14-day holdout.
Russell, a defensive tackle from Southern California who was picked No. 2 in the NFL draft, two spots ahead of Boulware, signed a deal with guaranteed money during the first couple of years and a voidable clause. Modell, however, said voidables are not part of the Ravens' proposal.
Modell also came close to indicating that he has a time frame for pulling the offer, and hinted it could come after the team's second preseason game, Aug. 8 against the New York Jets, if Boulware is not in camp.
"It becomes a hairy situation at that point," said Modell, referring to the second preseason game. "Unless he comes in now, then the package becomes diminished more and more for every day that he misses.
"Yesterday was an invaluable experience for our rookies, and he should have been there," he said of Saturday's scrimmage against the Philadelphia Eagles. "He is obviously a quality player, but he has never played linebacker. He has to get on the field and learn his craft. Forget what he did in school. I'm worried about what he does here.
"If I have to spring Ozzie [Newsome, vice president of player personnel] loose to get some free agents to play outside linebacker, then I'll do that. Then the boat might sail all together."
During months of negotiations, the Ravens have offered Boulware five- to six-year deals with signing bonuses that range from $6 million to $6.5 million, according to sources close to the team.
But after Russell signed his seven-year, $22 million deal, which didn't include a signing bonus but guaranteed him $8.325 million, the Ravens decided to make a similar offer to Boulware, the Florida State defensive end who is expected to start at strong-side outside linebacker.
Oakland gave Russell a clause that essentially voids the deal after five years, but Modell said no such offer has been given to Boulware. Roosevelt Barnes and Eugene Parker, agents for Boulware, did not return phone calls yesterday.
"No voidables. Voidables are out of the question," Modell said. "We looked over the Russell deal, and we liked some of the new wrinkles. We have given Eugene Parker a similar proposal with no signing bonus and the guaranteed money. We have !c reshaped, restructured, reformed, done just about everything we could to get him here."
Modell said he doesn't understand the holdout because the Ravens had only $1.81 million under their rookie cap, so their options are limited.
"I have no qualms and no shame about the offer we've made to Peter," he said. "It's first-class all the way. I'm not inflexible, I'm not stupid. I'm not going to hurt my franchise by being stubborn. I've told our people to keep the negotiating door open 24 hours a day, but there are reasonable limits."
Pat Moriarty, the team's chief financial officer who is handling the negotiations, said, "Cap-wise, we're flexible. We have enough room to front-end the deal, i.e., a signing bonus, or the ability to do the other, which is to back-load the deal with a lot of money.
"The only real significant difference is that you don't get the big cash up front in your first year without the signing bonus, but your gross total is slightly higher."
The Ravens are perplexed about Parker's strategy. Since Parker represents the fourth, fifth and sixth overall picks in the draft, they don't know whether he is going to work some type of "step deal" with No. 5 or No. 6 before getting Boulware to sign, or if he's waiting for the No. 3 player's deal to be completed.
"He's got a problem," Modell said of Parker. "He has got Nos. 4, 5 and 6 all holding out. That's a real problem for an agent. Nobody wants to have their career retarded."
Pub Date: 7/28/97