M. Lewis decides to stay Raven

Redskins make record offer, but he agrees to deal here

They've `been loyal to me'

Snyder fails to get him to join Spurrier on `Dream Team' staff

February 10, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

This time, Marvin Lewis is back with the Ravens on his own terms.

Less than 24 hours after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backed out of hiring him as head coach, Lewis turned down a big-money offer from the Washington Redskins to become their defensive coordinator and agreed in principle to a new deal with the Ravens yesterday.

"I'm tired of putting my family through this," Lewis told The Sun. "[Ravens owner] Art Modell, [senior vice president of football operations] Ozzie Newsome, right straight down the line through the organization have been loyal to me. I'm at peace with this decision."

It would have been very easy for Lewis to fly south yesterday.

According to a league source, the Redskins were ready to hand out an NFL-record deal for an assistant, offering an annual base salary of $850,000 plus an additional $500,000 in incentives. They wanted Lewis to make the visit to Washington so badly that they were going to bring him in by helicopter from Westminster.

But Lewis, the Ravens' only defensive coordinator in their six-year history, decided to stay put in the Finksburg community that has embraced him, his wife, Peggy, and their two children, 16-year-old Whitney and 11-year-old Marcus.

It is believed that the Ravens will sign him early next week to a two-year package (base salary and incentives) that one source described as "significantly less" than the Redskins' offer. But the source added that his agreement with the Ravens could reach $800,000 with incentives, making him the NFL's highest-paid assistant again.

"He didn't want to go for the big bucks and forgo some of the values that we have here," Modell said. "I impressed upon him that we're still a viable launching pad for a head coaching job."

Many published reports last night in Washington and on the Internet had Lewis, whose Ravens extension expired on March 1, poised to sign with the Redskins.

Even Lewis' agent, Ray Anderson, gave that impression on Friday when he told ESPN, "Let's just say there is a very, very strong possibility of Marvin going to the Redskins." When reached by phone yesterday, Anderson declined to comment on Lewis staying with the Ravens.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder was trying to assemble a "Dream Team" coaching staff by combining Lewis' defensive expertise with new Washington coach Steve Spurrier, who doubles as offensive coordinator.

After Lewis decided not to meet with the Redskins yesterday morning, Washington officials repeatedly called him in an attempt to restart negotiations.

"Everyone looks at it that if I teamed with Steve Spurrier, they would put people in the seats," Lewis said. "But I'm familiar with this organization, and theirs is unknown."

By re-signing Lewis, the Ravens retained a stabilizing force in their period of transition.

Their coaching staff will have four changes this season that will be announced tomorrow. The team intends to promote defensive assistant Mike Smith to linebackers coach, expand the role of defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson and hire special teams coach Gary Zauner and quarterbacks coach David Shaw.

As far as personnel, the defense could lose as many as six starters.

In addition to defensive tackle Tony Siragusa retiring, the Ravens will ask safety Rod Woodson, defensive tackle Sam Adams and defensive ends Rob Burnett and Michael McCrary to take pay cuts - because of high salary-cap numbers - or be released. Plus, the team will likely lose outside linebacker Jamie Sharper in the expansion draft and cornerback Duane Starks in free agency.

But it wouldn't be the first time that Lewis has built a defense. He molded a defense that was ranked last in the league in 1996 into the No. 2 unit overall from 1999 to 2001.

"We will be undergoing a lot of restructuring as far as the coaching staff and the playing level," Modell said. "Marvin will be an important thread of continuity."

Sun columnist Mike Preston contributed to this article.

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