Rookie wide receiver Patrick Johnson could not stomach the thought of allowing a contract squabble to delay his arrival at his first training camp.
Yesterday, nearly four weeks before Ravens rookies will report to camp, Johnson relieved his anxiety and fattened his wallet by signing a three-year, $1.65 million contract that includes a $675,000 signing bonus.
"It's nice to get the deal done. I just wanted to get it over with so I could get down to business and get ready for training camp," Johnson said. "I'll do whatever I have to do to be ready. That won't even be an issue or a question."
Johnson, the 42nd player drafted overall, became the sixth second-round choice to sign. He did so after talks between the Ravens and his agent, Stephen Ellis, picked up steam last weekend and accelerated earlier this week. Johnson and Ellis traveled to Baltimore late Tuesday night.
After agreeing to an incentive clause yesterday morning, Johnson decided to become a Raven officially.
Johnson will earn a $260,000 salary this year. It will increase to $325,000 in 1999 and $390,000 in 2000. He also can earn an additional $20,000 after each season under two conditions -- if the Ravens win at least eight games and if Johnson catches at least 50 passes.
"Patrick wanted to get this out of the way," Ellis said. "He felt that, as long as there were negotiations going on, he wouldn't be able to concentrate on football. Now, he can concentrate on his game."
The Ravens are looking to Johnson -- and the speed that has produced 40-yard dash times of under 4.4 seconds -- to beef up their receiving corps and to complement speedy veteran Jermaine Lewis in the kick return game.
"Patrick is a big-play guy who is very capable of running with the football after he catches it, and we think he has a bright future because of his toughness," Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said.
"We'll look for him to help us on special teams right away, and we'll probably ease him into the receiver position. He plays as fast with the pads on as he looks on the track."
Johnson also spent part of yesterday finding a place to live near the Ravens' Owings Mills facility. He plans to settle in Baltimore about July 1, when he can begin working out regularly at the team's complex.
Johnson said he is eager to make up for missed time. He was forced to skip the Ravens' recent minicamp because he had to take final exams at the University of Oregon.
"We've already talked to [quarterback] Eric Zeier, and Eric is looking forward to having Patrick come in so he can throw to him," Marchibroda said. "The coaching staff will be back [from vacation] immediately following the Fourth of July, and we'll be working with him. We think we can move him ahead."
Former cornerback Eugene Daniel has declined the Ravens' offer to join the team as an assistant coach.
Pub Date: 6/25/98