Adams out

will Grbac follow him?

Ravens drop below salary cap limit by cutting def. tackle

QB faces ultimatum

Accept less money or be cut today, says Billick, `no bluffing'

March 01, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Today, the Ravens will learn whether quarterback Elvis Grbac will remain a part of their future. Yesterday, they had to say goodbye to another vital piece of their Super Bowl past.

Completing the final step to remain under the league's $71.1 million salary cap by today, the Ravens terminated the contract of Sam Adams, saving $6.041 million of cap space. The two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle was cut before receiving a roster bonus today and became the eighth starter from last year's second-ranked NFL defense to be put onto the free-agent market.

Now, all the attention turns to Grbac, who is due a $6 million bonus if he is on the roster tomorrow. As of last night, team officials said proposals were exchanged to rework Grbac's contract, but no deal has been finalized.

If no agreement is reached by today's 4 p.m. deadline, the Ravens plan to cut Grbac.

"We've made it very, very clear and everyone understands that we cannot execute the contract at its current form," said Ravens coach Brian Billick. "There is no bluffing going on here. There has to be a restructure. I have great faith that we all understand that and we're past that point. Does that mean it's not going to be a final agreement at 3:59 p.m.? That's fine, too."

Grbac's agent, Jim Steiner, did not return phone calls last night.

The deal hinges on how much money the Ravens are willing to pay Grbac after his disappointing season and how much Grbac is willing to sacrifice to remain with the Ravens.

The Ravens apparently are asking Grbac to take a pay cut after finishing as the NFL's 26th-rated passer. A season removed from his first Pro Bowl appearance, he was 9-7 as a starter and threw a career-worst 21 interceptions, which were converted into 55 points by opponents (including three returned for touchdowns).

In his original contract signed last March, Grbac was scheduled to receive a $1.5 million base salary for the 2002 season in addition to that $6 million bonus. But the team is reportedly looking to slice $3 million of that total payment of $7.5 million.

That pay cut would free up more cap space to help the Ravens fill out their roster. If he refuses a pay reduction and is released, Grbac would still count $4 million against the cap.

The Ravens believe Grbac will still earn more money by reworking his deal than venturing out into free agency after his inconsistent season. But if a deal cannot be struck and Grbac is cut, the team is willing to continue negotiations to bring him back.

"If it goes past that [deadline], it certainly doesn't close the door," Billick said. "Nothing really changes other than I think there's a missed opportunity for the people of Baltimore to see Elvis' resolve of what he is willing to come back into and compete for. If this gets done before the time frame, I think fans got to give him credit for that. If it goes past, I certainly understand their perspective."

Luring Adams back may not be as simple; he should draw interest in free agency. Plus, the Ravens may be looking to invest more in their linebacker corps if they switch to a 3-4 defense.

With Adams becoming a free agent, the Ravens have had to do away with 14 players, including eight former Pro Bowl performers, over the past two weeks to fit under the cap. Adams did not return phone calls last night.

"We're hopeful that we can get Sam re-signed," Billick said. "It's just a process that we have to go through."

NOTES: The Ravens' coaching staff and personnel department are attending this weekend's NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The team expects to conduct 20-minute interviews with 150 of the 333 draft prospects invited to the combine. The Ravens have the 24th pick in the April draft. ... Talks have begun for Billick's contract extension with the Ravens. "There's no real time frame for it," Billick said. "We're moving along." ... Chip Morton, the Ravens' assistant strength and conditioning coach for the past three seasons, has been hired to be the Washington Redskins' strength and conditioning coach. ... The Ravens have decided not to designate any of their potential free agents as a "franchise" or "transition" player. A franchise player gets a one-year offer from the team equal to the average salary of the five highest-paid players at his position, and a transition player gets a one-year offer equal to the average salary of 10 highest-paid players at his position.

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