Grbac picks retirement over move

Tired of relocating family, ex-Ravens QB decides to quit at 31

`He is a principles guy'

He opts to turn down Bengals' $3.5M offer, $1M more than Ravens'

March 05, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Three days after his sudden termination by the Ravens, Elvis Grbac has decided to retire from football, his agent confirmed yesterday.

According to Jim Steiner, the 31-year-old quarterback did not want to start over with another team and could not put his wife and three children through another move.

On Friday, the Ravens released the heavily criticized Grbac after the two sides never came close on a restructured contract. Grbac was willing to take a $3.5 million pay reduction, but the Ravens were asking the league's 26th-rated passer to go from a total payout of $7.5 million in 2002 to $2.5 million.

After Grbac's release made him a free agent, Steiner negotiated with the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday and said the Bengals offered more than $3.5 million. But the deal wasn't lucrative enough to persuade Grbac to come back for a 10th NFL season.

Grbac informed Steiner yesterday that he wanted to retire just one year removed from a Pro Bowl season.

"He feels it was his time," Steiner said. "He had hoped that it would be different in Baltimore. He was looking forward to playing for the defending champions. He was ready to enjoy five years in Baltimore. Obviously, it didn't work out that way."

Grbac did not return phone calls yesterday, and coach Brian Billick could not be reached to comment. The Ravens are leaning toward starting third-string quarterback Chris Redman for the 2002 season.

Grbac's stunning decision capped a whirlwind year.

On March 6, 2001, Grbac became part of an unprecedented move when he was lured by the Ravens to replace Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer. He signed a five-year, $30 million contract after passing for a career-high 4,169 yards and 28 touchdowns for the Kansas City Chiefs.

But Grbac failed to help the Ravens defend their title and was vilified by fans for his critical mistakes. He threw a personal-worst 18 interceptions - including three returned for touchdowns - and had his lowest quarterback rating (71.1) as a full-time starter.

After Billick publicly backed Grbac all season, the Ravens' front office informed Grbac he would have to take a pay cut to remain on the roster.

A team official said the Ravens had offered him a deal that could have ballooned to $6 million in 2002 by reaching incentives. Steiner, though, indicated the new deal was structured to keep him for only one year.

"His first choice was to stay in Baltimore," Steiner said. "When that didn't happen, Cincinnati provided a much better offer than Baltimore, but he didn't want to move on. He couldn't do that to his family. He wanted to settle in and stay in one place."

By releasing Grbac, the Ravens saved about $1 million in cap space. In his only season with the Ravens, Grbac collected a $5 million signing bonus and his 2001 base salary of $529,412.

"He is a principles guy," Steiner said. "He wanted to be in Baltimore, but based on their actions, it was too uncomfortable for him to stay."

NOTES: Free-agent defensive tackle Lional Dalton, a three-year backup for the Ravens, is expected to visit the Cleveland Browns today. ... Free-agent right tackle Leon Searcy will visit the Washington Redskins tomorrow. ... The New York Giants are reportedly looking to make a run at free-agent tight end Shannon Sharpe.

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