Ismail accepts Ravens' terms

Receiver finally takes 4-year, $8M final offer

March 29, 2000|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Qadry Ismail's final answer yesterday was that he was taking the Ravens' final offer.

Pat Moriarty, the Ravens' chief negotiator, said that Tony Agnone, the agent for the wide receiver, called him yesterday at the league's annual March meetings to accept the team's four-year, $8 million offer.

The papers for the agreement in principle will be signed after Moriarty returns to Baltimore.

"We're glad to have it done," said coach Brian Billick, who will have four members of his receiving corps under contract once Ismail signs. They still have to sign Justin Armour and Billy Davis, who is mainly a special teams player.

Jermaine Lewis is in the second year of a deal that runs through 2003 and pays him $2 million this year. Patrick Johnson is in the final year of a deal that pays him $390,000, and Brandon Stokley is in the second year of a deal that pays him the second-year minimum of $275,000. Armour figures to get a deal for less than $1 million.

Ismail balked when the Ravens first made the offer two weeks ago because $5 million of the deal is in the final two years of the contract. The deal also includes a $1.3 million signing bonus.

But Agnone, who was traveling yesterday and not available for coment, had indicated that Ismail didn't want to leave Baltimore.

If Ismail waited much longer to take the offer, he was risking becoming less valuable because the Ravens could either draft a wide receiver on the first round or trade for Cincinnati's Carl Pickens if the Bengals draft Florida State receiver Peter Warrick.

Ismail also fits in well in Billick's offense. He was one of Billick's scrap-heap guys who made the veteran minimum of $400,000 last year along with a $6,000 workout bonus. After failing to catch a pass in 1997 and 1998, he had a breakout season last year, leading the team with 68 catches for 1,105 yards and becoming a favorite target of quarterback Tony Banks.

Moriarty said he hasn't had any phone conversations this week with some of the other free agents the Ravens want to keep, including Armour, Davis, special teams ace Bennie Thompson and quarterback Stoney Case.

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president for player personnel, also denied reports in Cincinnati that the Ravens are close to making an offer sheet to Bengals running back Corey Dillon, a restricted free agent.

If a team makes Dillon an offer, the Bengals have the option of matching it or getting first- and third-round picks for him.

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