Starks' father optimistic on contract talks 'Serious' negotiations lacking, but he expects top pick to report this week



July 28, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF Contributing writer Ryan Basen contributed to this article.

The father of Ravens top draft pick Duane Starks said he expects negotiations to get serious soon and expects his son to appear in training camp before the end of the week.

Starks, a cornerback out of the University of Miami, missed his sixth day of training camp yesterday, but his father, the Rev. Willie Starks, said he doesn't believe the negotiations have reached an impasse. The Ravens are offering Starks, the No. 10 pick overall, a multi-year deal worth nearly $8.5 million.

"I don't think Pat Moriarty [Ravens chief financial officer] has been serious, and from what I've been hearing from Art Modell, he isn't serious yet, either," said the senior Starks. "I really don't think we're too far away. We're hoping to get in before the week is over."

Moriarty said the Ravens haven't budged much from their initial offer, similar to a year ago, when linebacker Peter Boulware held out for nearly six weeks as the team's top pick.

Drew Rosenhaus, Starks' agent, reiterated that Starks would not be slotted simply because several players ahead and behind him in the draft have signed.

"You sit home wondering what you're missing, how far you've just dropped behind because you've missed another day and what the reporters are writing about you," Boulware said. "Each day you wake up and hope the contract gets done. It's a very agonizing period.

"I would advise him to get a fair deal, but the quicker it gets done, the better. Once the persons in front of you and behind you sign, then your contract is pretty much set. You might as well sign unless you're going to get something ridiculous."

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, said he expects to work out several cornerbacks today. The Ravens were close to signing free-agent receiver Ray Crittenden yesterday, but he failed his physical, Newsome said.

Other views

Rosenhaus once represented running back Erict Rhett and linebacker Ray Lewis. Both have since switched agents, with Rhett doing so after a prolonged holdout two years ago when he was with Tampa Bay. Despite the similar situation with Starks, Rhett said Rosenhaus should be held entirely accountable for Starks' holdout.

"Drew's going through a different situation with Duane than he did with me. There is a big business side to the [NFL] now; that's Drew's job," Rhett said. "It's up to [Starks] to make the final decision. Drew just advises him and tells him what to do in this situation. But Duane controls his own destiny."

Lewis said Starks may be in a difficult position, making it hard for him to end his holdout. "There's really no advice I can give to him," Lewis said. "I don't know exactly his situation. Duane's in a very neutral position. Drew knows what he's doing; he's trying to get [Duane] a good deal.

"But with an agent, you have to know how to handle yourself. It's a professional situation, and it's hard to deal with."

When Rhett held out in 1996, it hurt his standing with the Buccaneers and may have caused him to lose his starting job last season to Warrick Dunn. But he doesn't foresee the holdout being as detrimental to Starks' career.

"He'll be all right," Rhett said. "He's been playing cornerback his whole life. As soon as he gets in here, he'll be fine. He had a good minicamp with us. I'm sure Drew will get Duane in camp at just the right time.

Lewis didn't sound as confident, though. "I don't know why he's holding out," he said. "I don't know why people hold out. Obviously for more money, but I don't understand it."

Plenty of receivers

The addition of Floyd Turner last week gives the Ravens five receivers with NFL experience and rookie Patrick Johnson, who is nearly a lock to make the team.

Besides starters Michael Jackson and Jermaine Lewis, the Ravens have Turner, James Roe and Ryan Yarborough at the position. Most NFL teams only keep five receivers on their active rosters, meaning one of the five veterans may be cut at the end of camp.

Yarborough, who caught 16 passes for 183 yards in his first season in Baltimore last year as a backup to Lewis in the slot, may be the odd man out. He said he's not feeling any extra pressure to perform at a higher level, though.

"If I go out there and show what I can do, then things will take care of themselves," Yarborough said. "I'm just concerned about what I do. Other guys like Floyd, how they do doesn't bother me."

Yarborough said he has improved his game from last season, enough so that he is optimistic about the 1998 season. "I'm more comfortable with the offense this year," he said. "The off-season helped a lot. I watched a lot of film and lifted weights. I'm prepared."

No fun being a Monarch

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