Ravens intensify McCrary talks

6-year deal proposed

sides to meet tomorrow

August 18, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens officials and the agent for Michael McCrary are expected to meet tomorrow in Florida to continue talks about a possible six-year contract extension for the Pro Bowl defensive end.

Michael George, McCrary's agent, said he has been in contact with Ravens vice president of administration Pat Moriarty and most of the talk has centered on a six-year proposal.

McCrary's side initially wanted a seven-year deal, but this could signal the sides are working within the parameters of the four-year, $32 million extension recently signed by New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan that included a $12 million signing bonus. Strahan is one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league.

Strahan and McCrary are considered among the top two or three defensive ends in the NFL. McCrary's signing bonus is expected to be in the $11 million to $12 million range.

"We feel as though Michael is the best defensive end in the game, as well as one of the best defensive players in the league," George said. "We feel as though the range is pretty clear. We're probably looking at six [years] even though that has not been defined yet. Perhaps it could be less, but we still have to work out some detail before we reach a mutual agreement."

McCrary has one year left on his contract, but has said he will enter the free-agent market if the Ravens don't re-sign him before the start of the 1999 regular season. According to several people close to McCrary, the Ravens would be unlikely to get him to return to Baltimore if the deadline is not met because McCrary would consider that a sign of disrespect.

There were concerns about McCrary's knees, but he may have eased a lot of those Monday when he put on full pads for the first time in camp. Except for some heavy breathing as a result of not playing or practicing regularly, McCrary was all over the field running down quarterbacks as usual. His first step was as quick as ever.

It may have served as an audition because McCrary didn't practice at all yesterday. Team physician Claude T. Moorman gave McCrary a clean bill of health.

"That was the plan all along," Moorman said of McCrary's on-again, off-again routine. "He'll be on again, off again right up until the last preseason game. We're not in a hurry with Mike; we know what he can do. This is all scripted. He has not carried fluid in his knee all of camp. He looks better than he has since he has been here. We're very optimistic."

Both sides are optimistic about getting a deal done before McCrary's imposed deadline. Moriarty confirmed talks about a six-year deal, but added other market deals at other positions would be considered in the negotiations.

"If we didn't feel we could get this accomplished, we wouldn't be talking to them and they wouldn't be talking to us," George said. "The Ravens have been fair and I believe we have been, too, but we're not to the point where an agreement can be reached."

Ravens coach Brian Billick said of McCrary: "He is one of those guys, and there is only a handful in the league, that as an offensive coordinator you go into a game plan and the first thing you say is, `How are we going to handle this guy?' "

Pub Date: 8/18/99

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