The Ravens shored up a significant need yesterday, and as a result, backup quarterback Eric Zeier will head into his fourth season with more job security and a tremendous pay raise.
As expected, the Ravens retained the services of Zeier, a restricted free agent, by matching the Atlanta Falcons' two-year, $2.6 million offer sheet.
Zeier will collect a $2 million signing bonus and a base salary of $300,000 for the next two seasons. By matching Atlanta's bid, the Ravens gave Zeier a 1,000 percent raise over last season, when he earned $233,300.
"This is a great situation. I love this city, and I love the direction this organization is headed in," Zeier said.
The Ravens originally had tendered Zeier a one-year qualifying offer of $397,000. Zeier's new deal will cost the Ravens another $900,000 in salary cap funds for 1998, leaving them with about $2.1 million in cap room.
Zeier's value went up after his encouraging performance late last season, when he replaced an injured Vinny Testaverde in the team's 13th game and then started the last three games, leading the Ravens to a 2-1 finish.
Yesterday's move virtually seals the fate of Testaverde. The Ravens, who traded for a new starter in Jim Harbaugh last month, are expected to release Testaverde after June 1 in order to save $2.7 million in salary cap funds.
Pub Date: 3/11/98