Ravens end Testaverde era by waiving quarterback Going in 'different direction,' team saves $1.6 million on '98 cap

June 03, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens severed their ties with Vinny Testaverde yesterday morning, waiving the veteran quarterback before the start of minicamp practices at the team's Owings Mills complex.

The move ended a five-year relationship between Testaverde and the franchise, one that had become strained in recent months with friction involving the Ravens' front office, including owner Art Modell, and Testaverde's agent, Mike Azzarelli.

The agent had lobbied for the team to cut Testaverde on the first available date possible, which was Monday. By cutting Testaverde after Monday, the Ravens save $1.658 million against the 1998 salary cap but will be charged $2.658 million against the 1999 salary cap.

Testaverde was supposed to make $4 million this season and $5 million in 1999.

Testaverde became expendable after the Ravens failed to lure former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly out of retirement and then traded for Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh in mid-February. The move was also made out of salary-cap concerns. Testaverde was expected to make $4 million this season ($1.5 million guaranteed), $5 million in 1999 and $6 million in 2000.

As of Monday evening, the Ravens were still not sure when Testaverde would be waived, with several front-office members denying that the decision would be made yesterday. When asked why the decision was made yesterday, vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome said: "It was an organizational decision to release him today."

Modell was reluctant to talk about Testaverde yesterday morning after practice, issuing only a brief statement. Marchibroda and Newsome called the quarterback yesterday to thank him for his years with the team.

"I'm more interested in the players who are here than the players who ain't here," Modell said. "I wish him the best and he knows I do. We're going in a different direction at quarterback, but Vinny will continue to play and start in this league."

The Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints and New York Jets may have interest in Testaverde, who is entering his 12th season.

According to Azzarelli, Testaverde must clear waivers from the other 29 teams in the league within 24 hours before he becomes a free agent. If a team selects Testaverde off waivers, it must honor his present Ravens contract.

Testaverde said he doesn't mind going to another team as a backup or competing for a starting job. He would like to play for a playoff contender.

"This works out best for both parties," he said. "I'm looking for a combination of things, then I'll weigh all my options. I want it to be a good situation, not something I'm forced into taking. I hope to sign on with a team fairly soon so I can move there and learn the new system. Hopefully, it can get done within the next week."

During his two years with the Ravens, Testaverde completed 596 of 1,019 passes for 7,148 yards with 51 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 1996. During his career, Testaverde has completed 2,300 of 4,177 passes for 29,223 yards with 175 touchdowns, 183 interceptions and a 72.8 quarterback rating.

He said he is leaving Baltimore with mixed emotions and was unhappy with the way the club handled his situation.

"I thought I was extremely loyal," Testaverde said. "When the team moved, I was there for the early functions. I had my contract redone several times and gave back money to sign free agents. In return, all I ever asked was for them to release me as soon as possible so I could move on with my life. This has been a tough situation, because I've met some great people along the way like coaches, players, trainers and the new friends I met in the community."

Said Azzarelli: "It's sad the relationship ended and sad the way it happened, but apparently the Ravens wanted it to end this way."

Two-year plan

A look at Vinny Testaverde's two-year career with the Ravens:

Yr. .. .. ..Att .. ..Com .. ..Yds .. ..TD .. ..Int

'96 .. .. ..549 .. ..325 .. .4177 .. ..33 .. ...19

'97 .. .. ..470 .. ..271 .. .2971 .. ..18 .. ...15

Tot .. .. .1019 .. ..596 .. .7148 .. ..51 .. ...34

Pub Date: 6/03/98

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