McCrary to return to practice

Defensive end expected at today's session after Saturday walkout

Ravens star still unhappy

Contract negotiations may resume today

September 01, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary is expected at practice today, and the team could begin negotiations about a contract extension by this afternoon, according to his agent, Michael George.

Ravens officials declined to comment, but George and McCrary both confirmed that the sixth-year player was flying in from Phoenix, Ariz., last night. McCrary left the team Saturday afternoon after contract negotiations broke down Friday following two days of talks.

Ravens officials said Monday that negotiations would not resume until McCrary returned to Baltimore. He has been fined as much as $5,000 a day since Monday.

"Nothing has happened yet," George said yesterday about a new contract. "We'll come back in, try it again and see what happens. They [Ravens] called me this afternoon and we agreed that Mike returning was in the best interest of everybody, mainly the team.

"We still have a disagreement business-wise and he is still unhappy. His position hasn't changed."

McCrary has one year left on his contract worth $1.9 million. He has said he wanted a contract extension before the beginning of the 1999 season or he would hit the free-agent market when the season ended.

McCrary wants a five- or six-year deal worth $7 million a season, including a $13 million signing bonus. The Ravens have offered a six-year deal worth $36 million that includes an $11.5 million signing bonus.

Ravens officials said they were only $3 million apart when the talks stalled, but George said yesterday that it was $6 million. He said Saturday that all previous proposals by either side were off the table.

The Ravens have implied they could designate McCrary the franchise player after this season. The tag would force McCrary to play in Baltimore in 2000 for the average salary of the top five players at his position.

"I think it was agreed upon today that both sides work harder in the negotiations," said McCrary about the walkout. "I just had to make a statement about the way the negotiations were going. I will be in town tomorrow for practice."

The Ravens had wanted Friday's noon game against the New York Giants to be McCrary's springboard to the regular season. McCrary had off-season knee surgery and had limited workouts in training camp. He was expected to see his first preseason action against the Giants, possibly playing a quarter.

McCrary had no idea about his status for Friday's game. It will be hard for him to get in playing shape for the opener against the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 12. If McCrary is not ready, then Keith Washington will continue to play in his spot.

"Once I get there, this means I have to focus hard because I'm behind," said McCrary. "There's no doubt about that. This has cost me time, but that's just the way the situation turned out."

When asked if he might leave again if the negotiations stalled, McCrary said: "Let's hope it gets done."

George said: "I can't comment on that."

Pub Date: 9/01/99

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