Siragusa wants to remake a deal

But defensive tackle must wait on extension, Ravens tell his agent

March 16, 2000|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Terry Lavenstein says defensive tackle Tony Siragusa waited patiently while the Ravens delivered new contracts to three other starting defensive linemen in the past seven months.

Now, Lavenstein says, it's Siragusa's turn.

The Pikesville-based agent said yesterday that he's looking for a three- to four-year extension for Siragusa, who has one year left on a contract he signed with the Ravens as a free agent in 1997.

But after a two-hour meeting with Ravens officials earlier this week, Lavenstein expressed concern about the willingness of the team to redo the contract.

"It did not yield anything fruitful," Lavenstein said of the meeting he and agent Gus Sunseri had with Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, and Pat Moriarty, vice president of administration.

"The Ravens said to let them work the numbers and they'll get back to us. [But] Tony's disappointed that it couldn't get farther. He is adamant about gaining an extension."

Lavenstein stopped short of threatening a training camp holdout -- "I won't address that issue," he said -- but suggested retirement and a switch to the TV broadcast booth is one of Siragusa's options.

Siragusa, a 10-year NFL veteran who will be 33 in May, was in South Florida on a fishing trip yesterday and unavailable to comment.

"Tony is fishing in a lot of ways. Or his agent is," said Ravens coach Brian Billick.

Lavenstein said he is seeking a "market value" deal for Siragusa. The average yearly salary of defensive tackles is about $3.6 million. Siragusa is due to make $1.5 million in 2000.

To illustrate Siragusa's worth to the Ravens' No. 2-ranked run defense, Lavenstein worked up a set of statistics. He said Siragusa produced an impact play -- sack, quarterback hurry or hit, or tackle -- in 17.5 percent of his snaps played last season.

According to Lavenstein, that's better than any of the other defensive linemen, and only slightly behind middle linebacker Ray Lewis' 19 percent.

The Ravens' response to all this was to say they have a desire to extend Siragusa's contract, but only after they've addressed the remainder of their unrestricted and restricted free agents, who total 18 at this point, and gone through the draft.

"If we're going to make up data, I'm the stat king," Billick said pointedly. "I can make up more data than you can shake a stick at.

"We have a lot of things facing this team right now with regard to our unrestricted and restricted free agents that clearly has to be the priority for this team.

"Goose is not an unrestricted or restricted free agent. Goose is under contract."

Newsome said the Ravens were willing to enter serious negotiations after next month's draft. He said the team hopes to reach a contract extension for Pro Bowl tackle Jonathan Ogden, as well as re-sign a list of restricted free agents that includes linebackers Jamie Sharper, Cornell Brown and Tyrell Peters, safety Kim Herring, running backs Priest Holmes and Jay Graham, center Jeff Mitchell and offensive tackle Spencer Folau.

"When a guy is going into the last year of his contract, we like to enter into negotiations to extend those deals -- after the draft," Newsome said.

The Ravens have a history of extending contracts. They extended defensive end Michael McCrary (five years, $38 million) in September and both Ray Lewis and wide receiver Jermaine Lewis previous to that.

Last month, the Ravens signed defensive end Rob Burnett (four years, $14 million) and defensive tackle Larry Webster (three years, $5 million), both unrestricted free agents. They also reached agreement in principle with free-agent defensive backs James Trapp (Tuesday) and Corey Harris (yesterday).

"We're juggling a lot of balls right now," Billick said. "We tried to communicate that to the players at the end of the season, that this thing paces itself out at a certain timing and [for them] to be patient with it.

"I talked to Goose [Tuesday]. I think Tony and I have a firm understanding. Tony understands what my perspective is, and knows we're going to do everything we can to respect what he's meant to this team.

"It would be ill-advised, inappropriate and unfair to the members of this team who are in the free-agency market to supersede attention to them for a player currently under contract."

NOTES: Lavenstein is also trying to get a new contract for special teams leader Bennie Thompson, who he said has received interest from the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots and a third team. Newsome said the club agreed to terms on a two-year contract for Harris yesterday, and Billick said Harris' role as the fourth cornerback might be expanded this season. Newsome said the Ravens had some interest in recently released Pittsburgh Steelers guard Brenden Stai, but wouldn't follow up until after the draft.

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