Ravens closing fast in talks with Starks Team, agent making 'progress' on top pick

July 14, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Ravens chief financial officer Pat Moriarty renewed contract talks with the agent for cornerback Duane Starks yesterday, as the two sides continued their efforts to get the first-round draft pick into training camp on time with the rest of the team's rookies.

Rookies are scheduled to arrive at Western Maryland College next Monday. The first practice will take place next Tuesday morning.

"We're doing a lot of negotiating right now. Nothing is imminent, but we're making progress," said Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Starks. "My take on it is I'm optimistic. We still have some issues to work out. My hope is to get this thing done by next Tuesday. It's very important to get Duane signed before camp."

Rosenhaus has cautioned that he won't allow his client to be "slotted" into a contract. Starks, the 10th overall selection, is expected to challenge third-year player DeRon Jenkins for a starting job.

Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor, the ninth pick, has signed a six-year, $10.7 million deal that includes a $5 million signing bonus. Philadelphia offensive lineman Tra Thomas, the 11th overall choice, has agreed to a five-year, $8.2 million contract with a $3.4 million bonus.

"I'm waiting on a counterproposal from [Rosenhaus], and this week will be busier in terms of dialogue," Moriarty said. "It could be done this week."

The same goes for the other remaining unsigned Ravens picks -- defensive tackle Martin Chase and safety Ryan Sutter (fifth round) and offensive lineman Sammy Williams and linebacker Ron Rogers (sixth).

Moriarty hinted Williams and Rogers could sign earlier than the other pair.

"I would base that on the fact that more deals have been done so far for the sixth-rounders [in the draft]," Moriarty said. "We have good deals on the table for all of those guys [in the lower rounds]."

Moriarty also expects to address another important order of business this week, namely re-starting negotiations with agent Tom Condon on a long-term contract for veteran center Wally Williams. Talks could resume as early as tomorrow.

Because he has been designated as the team's franchise player, Williams has been guaranteed a 1998 salary of $3.062 million, the average salary for the five highest-paid linemen in the league.

Williams, who wants a long-term deal -- and the hefty signing bonus it will command -- has said he might not report to training camp with the rest of the veterans on July 24 without a new contract.

"I haven't had any recent discussions with Tom," Moriarty said. "With camp coming up for the veterans, we'll be talking sooner than later."

Pub Date: 7/14/98

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