4-year deal eyed with McAlister

Slaughter added

Ravens, top pick make progress

veteran WR joins minicamp group

June 08, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens and No. 1 draft pick Chris McAlister are likely to settle on a four-year contract, according to league sources, and the team bolstered its depth at wide receiver by signing veteran Webster Slaughter to a one-year contract yesterday worth about $400,000, with incentives for additional money.

Apparently, the team's meetings with Eugene Parker, McAlister's agent, have been productive, with the two sides basically agreeing on a four-year deal. One major issue is the amount of the signing bonus and whether it will be paid up front or be deferred. Parker has refused to return phone calls.

But McAlister's deal, if it remains at four years, will be in the neighborhood of the one cornerback Duane Starks signed last season. Starks, who like McAlister was the No. 10 overall pick a year ago, received a signing bonus of $3.1 million and a four-year deal worth $6.5 million. The short term of the contract will allow McAlister to hit the free-agent market for a more lucrative deal if he is successful early.

Pat Moriarty, the Ravens' vice president of administration, would only confirm that several options about the length of the contract had been discussed. "There are still options out there," he said in a brief statement. "Both sides are working hard to get a deal completed before training camp."

"I don't know where we're at in the negotiations," said McAlister. "It's not a major concern. But I have impressed upon my agent to get a deal done before training camp. I definitely expect to be there on time."

Meanwhile, the Ravens made the announcement on Slaughter official yesterday, and he was one of 85 players who participated in the first day of Mini camp II at the team's Owings Mills training complex.

Also, former Dallas Cowboys receiver Billy Davis was expected to fly into Baltimore last night, but the bidding for the 27-year-old Davis is expected to be more intense than it was for Slaughter, 34.

Slaughter practiced with the team yesterday after cautionary words from Ravens coach Brian Billick.

"He was fluid, solid and showed some good hands," said Billick, who coached Slaughter at San Diego State.

"I have a history with Webster. He's the consummate professional. He's going to work hard in practice and try to get everything at once. I told him to take it slow, that these guys already had time in our system. I want him to learn the system first and also give him a chance to get his football legs under him."

Slaughter played in only 10 games last season with the San Diego Chargers, catching eight passes for 93 yards, before being placed on injured reserve on Nov. 25 for the rest of the season because of an injured finger.

From 1986 through 1994, when he was with Cleveland and Houston, Slaughter was one of the better receivers in the league. His best year was with the Browns in 1989 when he caught 65 passes for 1,236 yards and six touchdowns.

But in recent years he has struggled with knee injuries and other ailments. He says he believes he can still play at the same level as when he was younger.

Slaughter said Billick has told him he could play either inside or outside, and possibly with a lot of motion to create some mismatches. But one thing's for sure: Slaughter wants to be a team leader.

"When training camp starts, I want to be an example on the field as well as off of it," said Slaughter. "I want to set a precedent. I'm not saying that I'm perfect, but I've been through some things the younger players haven't. We all can learn from each other.

"I'm looking to come in and provide some spark on offense," he said. "I believe in my ability, that I can come in and have an impact. There are people in this organization who still believe in me and that's good to know.

"I've played just about every position a receiver can play and I've taken care of my body. The quickness is still there.

"There are a lot of opportunities around the league for veteran players, but they just want you to come in and push the younger guys. I can push the younger guys, but also make some big plays."

Slaughter will get his opportunity twice this season against his former teammates, the Browns. Slaughter, along with former Browns tight end Ozzie Newsome, spent Sunday in Cleveland at an alumni gathering. Newsome is the Ravens' vice president of player personnel.

"They kept asking me, `Can you still play? Who you going to play for?' " said Slaughter. "I didn't want to tell them a lie, so I just said we'll wait and see. It would have been rough if I said Baltimore because they already have these signs up about bashing Baltimore. Ozzie got a great ovation. They'll never boo `The Wizard.'

"But this is business and you have to treat it as such. That means going out and being the best you can be every day," he said.

Davis might be a good fit for the Ravens. He has good speed and acceleration, and had 39 catches for 691 yards and three touchdowns last season.

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