McAlister's contract estimated at $7.1M

Ravens' top pick to get share of signing bonus when deal is finalized

July 26, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens top draft pick Chris McAlister is expected to receive partial payment of a $3.75 million signing bonus once the final details of his four-year agreement are worked out with the team, according to a league source who estimated the total value of the deal at $7.1 million.

McAlister, a cornerback from the University of Arizona and the No. 10 overall pick in the draft, is expected to receive the second installment of his signing bonus before mid-February. McAlister and his agent, Eugene Parker, agreed to the deal in principle on Friday.

Meanwhile yesterday, the agent for Scott Mitchell said the veteran quarterback weighs 242 pounds, three pounds under his mandatory reporting weight when training camp practices open Thursday at Western Maryland College.

Parker did not return phone calls yesterday, but McAlister's deal is comparable to the four-year contract signed by Ravens cornerback Duane Starks, who was the No. 10 overall pick in 1998. Starks' agreement was worth $7 million but included a lower signing bonus, $3.1 million.

The Ravens would have preferred for McAlister to sign a longer contract, but his father, James, pressed for the shorter deal that would enable him to hit the free-agent market sooner, according to the source.

While the Ravens have listed third-year player DeRon Jenkins as the starting right cornerback, it has become apparent in two minicamps that McAlister is as good as any cornerback on the team, especially in press coverage where they can bump receivers at the line of scrimmage. He is already involved in nickel and dime coverages, but it's probably only a matter of time before he works his way into the starting lineup.

One league official recently rated him in the class of offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebackers Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware for instant success.

"We sent the contract out in overnight mail Saturday to Chris in Detroit where he was staying with friends," said Pat Moriarty, the Ravens' vice president of administration. "I assumed he received it today, will sign it and return it here [today]."

Three Ravens draft choices are unsigned, but only two of importance -- fourth-round selections Brandon Stokley, a wide receiver, and offensive tackle Edwin Mulitalo. Neither is expected to see substantial playing time this season.

The other unsigned draft pick is seventh-rounder Anthony Poindexter, a safety from the University of Virginia who isn't expected to fully recover from knee surgery until the next off-season.

Mitchell's weight, meanwhile, had become somewhat of a concern even though he had dropped a few pounds between the first two minicamps. Flexibility, though, was not a problem.

"A lot of players gain weight during the off-season, so we didn't feel that was a big problem," said Mitchell's agent, Tony Agnone. "But he looks fit and is ready to go."

Said Mitchell: "I'm excited about getting started. This whole opportunity, this whole new environment is exciting for me."

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