Strahan deal could impact McCrary talks

Giants defensive end agrees in principle to $32 million, 4 years

August 09, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan has agreed in principle to a four-year contract worth $32 million, including a $12 million signing bonus, a league source said yesterday. The deal could have a major impact on the negotiations for a contract extension between the Ravens and Pro Bowl defensive end Michael McCrary.

McCrary, 29, has one year left on his contract, and his agent, Michael George, has been negotiating with the Ravens the past three months. Strahan, 27, and McCrary are regarded as two of the game's best defensive ends, and both have been in the league for six years.

Strahan, who also had a year remaining on his contract, has 47 sacks in that time span compared with 43.5 for McCrary. Strahan has played in the Pro Bowl for the NFC squad the past two seasons, and McCrary was named to the AFC team last year. According to the league source, $18 million of Strahan's new deal is guaranteed, and an announcement of Strahan's becoming the highest-paid defensive end in the league could come today.

McCrary's agent has placed a proposal on the table that would pay McCrary $50.4 million over the next seven years, including an $18 million signing bonus. The agents for both players have been monitoring the negotiations of each other. McCrary and the Ravens might opt for a shorter deal.

"I have to study the deal, see how it was paid out and the value," said Ravens owner Art Modell last night. "I'm not going to comment on the length of the contract, the money or the signing bonus of what is being offered to Michael McCrary, but he will be paid accordingly. We have a commitment to Michael McCrary, and we want him to end his career in Baltimore. We will do the right thing."

Strahan's agent, Tony Agnone, was unavailable for comment last night, and George is on vacation in Europe. He is expected to resume negotiations with the Ravens within the next two weeks.

McCrary, who was second on the team in tackles last year with 102, has told team officials he will test the free-agent market if he doesn't get a contract extension by the beginning of the regular season on Sept. 12. The Ravens, though, could put a franchise tag on him for the 2000 season and pay him the average salary of the top five defensive ends, which was about $4.2 million in 1998, according to the league source.

But with Strahan's agreement and other recent defensive end signings, including the six-year, $30 million contract ($9 million signing bonus) signed in March by Chad Bratzke, the Giants' other defensive end, the average salary could climb to nearly $5.5 million.

"I congratulate Strahan for what he got," McCrary said last night. "He deserves it and was paid accordingly. It was great that the Giants were committed to him before the season started."

An area of concern for the Ravens has been McCrary's knees. He has had surgery on them every off-season since joining the team as a free agent in April 1997. McCrary has yet to practice in the first eight days of the 1999 training camp while rehabilitating from his latest surgery.

McCrary said his knee is nearly at full strength and he is being held out of practice as a precautionary measure by the team trainer and coach Brian Billick. After each surgery, McCrary has rebounded to become one of the team's top defensive players.

"I wanted to get into the scrimmage Saturday, but they wouldn't let me," said McCrary. "Each day I am doing more and more things than I did the day before, and look for me to play in the last preseason game. I'll need that game to get my playing rhythm down."

McCrary reiterated that there will be no negotiations during the regular season.

"I have to be 100 percent focused; it's time for football," said McCrary. "I can't be thinking about that negotiating stuff. It's already affected me during the last three months."

Pub Date: 8/09/99

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