Ravens, McAlister open contract talks

Club wants top pick in camp on time

May 15, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Ravens, hoping to get their top draft pick to training camp on time, have begun contract talks with the agent for rookie cornerback Chris McAlister.

Pat Moriarty, the Ravens' vice president of administration, has discussed contracts ranging in length from four to seven years with Eugene Parker, McAlister's agent. Moriarty flew to Fort Wayne, Ind., to meet with Parker on Thursday. The two are expected to talk again next week.

"We went through the whole gambit, discussing all of the parameters and all of the options, everything. I thought it was productive," Moriarty said. "We discussed the importance of having [McAlister] in camp on time. We exchanged a number of proposals. It was in-depth."

Neither Parker nor McAlister returned phone calls yesterday. McAlister is scheduled to arrive in Baltimore tomorrow, before participating in a five-day passing camp that begins Monday at the Ravens' Owings Mills facility.

McAlister, the 10th overall pick of the draft who is expected to start opposite Duane Starks -- last year's No. 10 draft choice -- said on draft day that he is determined to avoid a training camp holdout.

Given Parker's history, a McAlister holdout appears likely. In recent years, top 10 picks and Parker clients such as Arizona defensive linemen

Simeon Rice and Andre Wadsworth have held out for lengthy periods.

Two years ago, Ravens linebacker and first-round pick Peter Boulware, who is represented by Parker, missed all of his rookie training camp before joining the team in time for its final preseason game. In 1996, Parker briefly held out second-rounder DeRon Jenkins, who is projected as the Ravens' No. 3 cornerback this year.

James McAlister, the father of Chris and a former NFL player, suggested that his son will push Parker to get the deal done by late July, when players will report to camp at Western Maryland College.

"When we first met Eugene, the first words that came out of Chris'mouth were `I want to be in camp on time. I don't want to be a holdout,' " James McAlister said. "The most important thing for our son is to be in camp that first day [tentatively July 28] with everybody else.

"He wants to pay his dues and earn everything he gets. We pray we can get that done. But money becomes an issue. We'll follow Eugene's lead on this. He knows what he is doing."

The only top draft pick of the Ravens to report to camp on schedule was left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, the first draft choice in the team's history in 1996.

Last year, Starks missed 16 days of training camp before signing a four-year, $7 million deal that included a $3.1 million signing bonus.

Since bonus rewards generally increase at about 10 percent per year, and since McAlister is in the same draft slot as Starks, McAlister's signing bonus figures to end up in the $3.5 million range if he agrees, like Starks, to a four-year deal.

The bonus number will rise if McAlister signs a lengthier contract.

Pub Date: 5/15/99

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