Ravens, Johnson close to accord No. 2 choice may sign today

Jets are near deal with Testaverde

June 24, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht and Mike Preston | Gary Lambrecht and Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The agent for rookie wide receiver Patrick Johnson said he expects the Ravens' second-round draft pick to sign a three-year, $1.65 million contract today.

Johnson and his agent, Stephen Ellis, arrived here last night and are scheduled to meet this morning with Pat Moriarty, the Ravens' chief financial officer.

Johnson's pending deal includes a $675,000 signing bonus.

"Everything has been agreed to. Things went very smoothly," Ellis said. "There was never any question that Patrick was going to sign [in time for training camp]. Patrick is not one who wants to hold out for the very last dollar. He wants to start working with this team. He wants to help this team win."

In another development yesterday, the New York Jets are apparently close to signing former Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde, and an announcement could come as early as today, a league source said. The Ravens will play the Jets twice this season, first in an exhibition game on Aug. 15 and during the regular season on Sept. 13, the second game of the season.

Testaverde said yesterday that his agent, Mike Azzarelli, had been in contact with the Jets, but would not go into specifics. Azzarelli last night confirmed he will meet with Jets coach Bill Parcells today to discuss the length of the contract.

Testaverde, 34, would like a one-year deal worth $1.5 million-plus with incentives that could earn him another $2 million to $3 million, the source said.

The Jets' Neil O'Donnell, former Maryland quarterback, was told yesterday by Parcells that his services are no longer needed, according to agent Leigh Steinberg.

That sets up a battle between Testaverde and fifth-year player Glenn Foley for the starting job.

Testaverde was cut June 2, ending five years with the Ravens/Cleveland Browns. The 12-year veteran was not happy about the way the Ravens handled his benching near the end of last season or how they delayed his release by a day.

"If I had the chance to play for Bill Parcells, that would be a great opportunity for me, knowing his past of taking teams to the Super Bowl," Testaverde said. "I want to play for a coach that is disciplined, has a good defense, and an organization that is really focused on winning. I don't have too many years left. I'm not a youngster anymore.

"Me being from Long Island, I'd love to come home. There are still some things that need to be worked out. It has to be the right situation for me."

Of the Johnson negotiations, Moriarty said: "We've gone over the numbers, and we're pretty close. I'm hoping to finalize this thing. We wouldn't have made arrangements for him to fly in if we didn't feel pretty good about it."

Johnson, who did not attend the team's recent minicamp because he was taking final exams at Oregon, reportedly is eager to settle in Baltimore before the Ravens begin their third training camp July 20. That is the day rookies report to Western Maryland College.

The Ravens are counting on Johnson, 5 feet 10, 181 pounds, to give them depth at receiver and to complement Jermaine Lewis in the kick-return game. Johnson has been timed in under 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

As a senior at Oregon last fall, Johnson was an All-Pac-10 second-team selection after catching a career-high 55 passes for 1,072 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Ravens, who remain interested in acquiring another veteran receiver, also could be bringing Floyd Turner back to the fold.

Turner, 32, an eight-year veteran who played here in 1996, did not play last season.

Pub Date: 6/24/98

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