Ravens don't let tackle Adams get away

Free agent sitting at BWI when club convinces him to stay, forgo Green Bay

April 16, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The Ravens didn't allow Sam Adams to fly the coop.

After talks had broken off Friday night, the free-agent defensive tackle sat at Baltimore-Washington International Airport yesterday morning and planned to take a 9: 30 flight to Green Bay, where he was prepared to sign.

But the Ravens called Adams on his cell phone and agreed on a deal about an hour before he was to board. Dressed in a gold suit, Adams arrived at the Owings Mills complex in a BWI taxi at 11 a.m. and sported a black Ravens cap before the draft began.

The 6-foot-3, 297-pound tackle alleviated their biggest defensive concern, with the status of both starters uncertain. The team had to brace itself for Larry Webster possibly being suspended the entire season for violation of the league's substance- and alcohol-abuse policy and Tony Siragusa holding out for a contract extension.

Adams was considered the best defensive tackle in the free-agent pool and signed a four-year contract totaling $20 million. It's essentially a two-year agreement since the deal, which included a $2.5 million signing bonus, is worth $4.8 million for the first two years, with the final two years heavily back-loaded for salary cap reasons.

"When we watched film on Sam Adams, we realized this guy fits our defensive scheme perfectly," defensive line coach Rex Ryan said. "We expect tremendous things from him, both in the running game and the passing game. If he progresses the way I anticipate, you're looking at a guy who should be a future Pro Bowl player for us."

As of 8 p.m. Friday, Adams admitted to being unhappy with the Ravens. After they turned down his offer to play for less than he made last year, Adams said, "I think I'll sign with Green Bay."

Adams, however, didn't want to talk about the past and described the process as "very fair negotiations." Ravens coach Brian Billick referred to the situation as a "miscommunication."

Said Adams: "My family comes first. I had to make a family decision, so I was on my way out of town."

Adams, 26, provides the NFL's second-ranked defense more versatility. He has the size to work in the Ravens' system of defending the gaps. Plus, he has enough agility to stay on the field for most passing downs, which the Ravens couldn't count on from Webster.

"Like Mr. [Art] Modell said, we still couldn't start today without defense being represented first," said defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, alluding to the fact that the Ravens, before yesterday, had used their past three first-round picks for defensive players.

Said Ryan: "He's a guy who can collapse the pocket. With our two ends in passing situations, that's what we really need. We need a guy who can push the pocket and have those ends come screaming off that edge. It's going to be a race to the quarterback."

For his career, Adams has recorded 214 tackles and 23 sacks, starting 66 of 89 games. From Texas A&M, he was a first-team All-Rookie selection in 1994 and was an alternate to the Pro Bowl in 1997.

Last year, Adams made 23 tackles in his first eight games before injuring his knee in Week 9. After missing three games, he finished with 19 stops in five games, including four tackles and a sack in a playoff loss to Miami.

"I just want to be able to pull my weight," said Adams, a teammate of Michael McCrary's in Seattle from 1994 to 1996. "I'm not coming in with expectations.

"I wanted to be here. I gave them ample time. I thought everything was upfront and honest. What matters the most is that I'm here. But my bag is somewhere in Detroit now."

Sam Adams file

Position: Defensive tackle.

Age: 26.

Height: 6-3. Weight: 297. Years pro: 6.

College: Texas A&M.

Drafted: 1994 by Seattle, first round, eighth pick overall.

Career highlights 1999: Made 42 tackles; missed three games with a knee injury. Had four tackles and a sack in a playoff loss to Miami. 1998: Had sack and fumble recovery in season opener at Philadelphia. Scored first career TD on 25-yard interception at Dallas. 1997: Started 15 games at DT, earning selection as Pro Bowl alternate. Had 52 tackles and seven sacks, both career highs. 1996: Had three games of at least five tackles. Was part of front four that combined for 40 sacks. 1994: Was first-team All-Rookie selection. Played 12 games and had 27 tackles, four sacks.

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