Ravens, Burnett agree to 4-year, $14M deal

End was factor in No. 2-ranked defense

February 13, 2000|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens reached an agreement in principle with veteran defensive end Rob Burnett last night, according to a league source, and an announcement could come as early as tomorrow.

The contract is for four years worth $14 million and includes a $4.5 million signing bonus, the source said.

Neither team owner Art Modell, president David Modell nor Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, were available for comment last night.

The Ravens' search for a starting tight end will begin to intensify this week with at least two unrestricted players visiting Baltimore beginning tonight with Miami's Troy Drayton.

Also, the Ravens lost out in a serious bid for Seattle receiver Joey Galloway. The Dallas Cowboys traded two first-round draft picks for Galloway and then signed him to a six-year, $42 million contract.

But reaching an agreement with Burnett, 32, was one of the team's top priorities this season along with re-signing Ravens quarterback Tony Banks. Both players became unrestricted free agents Friday and were allowed to visit other teams.

The Ravens have been involved in contract talks with Burnett's agent, James A. Sims Jr., since the regular season ended on Jan. 2. Sims did not return phone calls to his office last night.

"Talks with Rob are going very well," Ravens coach Brian Billick said last night. "We're also pleased with our discussions with Tony Banks. His agent has been with Tony at the quarterback challenge and we expect the negotiations to become more serious next week."

Burnett was one of the main reasons why the Ravens had the No. 2-ranked defense in the NFL last season. After two seasons of being slowed by major knee surgery, he regained the form that made him a Pro Bowl alternate in 1994 and had the best season of the four starting defensive linemen, including right defensive end Michael McCrary, who was named to his second straight Pro Bowl.

Burnett, 6 feet 4 and 280 pounds, finished his 10th NFL season as the Ravens' No. 5 tackler with 81, had 6.5 sacks, knocked down eight passes, recovered two fumbles and blocked an extra point.

The next problem for the Ravens to solve is at tight end. Drayton, 29, is expected to meet with the Ravens' coaching staff and tour the training facility tomorrow. Denver's Shannon Sharpe, 31, is scheduled to arrive tomorrow night and will meet with the Ravens Tuesday. The Ravens also have had talks with former Minnesota tight end Andrew Glover, 32, as well as Ben Coates, 30, the former New England Patriot.

Glover visited the New Orleans Saints yesterday and his agent told reporters Glover would be in Baltimore later this week.

Drayton reportedly doesn't want to take a pay cut, and at least earn the $1.75 million he was expected to make with the Dolphins.

The Ravens thought they had a good chance of signing Galloway, offering one of their two 2000 first-round draft picks. The Ravens were willing to part with the No. 15 overall pick, which was four spots better than Dallas' No. 19 selection.

But the Cowboys offered their No. 1 pick in 2001 as well, winning Galloway's services from Seattle.

"We were very much in it," Billick said. " But to give up two No. 1's, in my opinion, that's prohibitive."

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