Ravens need to make more cuts before draft

To make all 10 picks, team first must trim another $850,000 off salary cap

Decimated roster forces issue

Reworking McCrary deal among options

Newsome: `We have a plan in place'

Pro Football

April 11, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The NFL draft is still nine days away, but the Ravens are on the clock now.

The Sun has learned that the Ravens can't make all 10 of their picks unless they shave an additional $850,000 off their roster by next week's draft.

Under league rules, a team's highest-paid 51 players count against its $71.1 million salary cap. Since the Ravens have only 35 players on their roster, all 10 of their draft picks factor into their cap at the rookie minimum of $225,000 for each selection.

That means they need to be at least $2.25 million under the cap to use all their choices on draft day. As of yesterday, the Ravens were only $1.4 million under the cap - which is $850,000 off the targeted number - despite last month's $26 million purge and would only be able to draft six players at this point.

"We're aware of that, and we have a plan in place," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' senior vice president of football operations. "It'll get done. We will be able to draft all 10 and sign some guys after the draft, too."

To slice off that necessary $850,000, the Ravens have two options: restructure a player's contract or cut more players off their already depleted roster.

The team has been trying to rework the deals of defensive end Michael McCrary and linebackers Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware.

The focus of the Ravens' cost-cutting efforts has been on Mc- Crary, and a source close to Mc- Crary said that "he's going to have to make some difficult decisions." McCrary is scheduled to make $5.25 million this season, and the Ravens want the 10-year veteran to take a pay reduction as well as a more specialized pass-rushing role.

If the Ravens fail to restructure anyone, they would likely release four first- or -second-year players. "We're prepared for whatever adjustments we need to make," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We have a structure in place. We don't think we're going to have to do that."

A shrinking roster has been the theme of the Ravens' off-season.

To get under the cap on March 1, the Ravens had to part ways with 13 starters to shed $26 million. This whirlwind youth movement has left the team with only 11 players with more than three years of playing experience.

The Ravens were looking to make their first additions of this off-season with 10 picks in the seven-round draft. The roster decimation has become so severe that the Ravens are open to drafting any position in the first round except tight end.

But before they can add, they must subtract $850,000.

"Our plan has been in place since March 1," Newsome said. "We knew we could get to this so we have a plan."

NOTES: The Ravens had pre-draft visits from two potential first-round picks: top-rated running back William Green (Boston College) and defensive end/outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (Syracuse). The team also met with cornerback Mike Rumph (Miami), receiver Javon Walker (Florida State), offensive tackle Langston Walker (California) and quarterback David Garrard (East Carolina). ... Last week, the Kansas City Chiefs worked out Ravens receiver Brandon Stokley, a restricted free agent. The Chiefs have until April 15 to make an offer to Stokley. The Ravens, who have tendered him a $563,000 contract, would then have the right to match the offer or let him go and receive a fourth-round pick. "It's nice to know that other people have an appreciation of what you can do," said Stokley, one of only two current Ravens wide receivers who have caught an NFL pass. "But I'm real comfortable here. This is where I want to be." ... With Tuesday's loss of defensive end Lorenzo Bromell, the Miami Dolphins are expected to visit after the draft with Rob Burnett, a recent cap casualty of the Ravens. ... On April 20, the Ravens will play host to their annual Spring Football Festival at Ravens Stadium from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event will feature question-and-answer sessions with players, interactive on-field activities and a live broadcast of the draft on the big screen. Tickets are available at 410-481-SEAT and cost $12 for adults and $7 for children.

Remaining Ravens

Here are the 35 players currently on the team's roster:

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks (2): Chris Redman, Cleo Lemon-x

Tailbacks (4): Jamal Lewis, Jason Brookins, Derek Homer-x, Morgan Kane-x

Fullback (1): Alan Ricard

Wide receivers (3): Travis Taylor, Brandon Stokley, Kenyon Hambrick-x

Tight ends (3): Todd Heap, John Jones, Jonathan Burrough

Linemen (7): Jonathan Ogden, Mike Flynn, Edwin Mulitalo, Casey Rabach, Bennie Anderson, Jason Thomas, Damon Nivens-x.

DEFENSE

Linemen (3): Michael McCrary, Kelly Gregg, Marques Douglas

Linebackers (5): Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Adalius Thomas, Ed Hartwell, Shannon Taylor

Cornerbacks (3): Chris McAlister, Alvin Porter, Reggie Waddell

Safeties (2): Gary Baxter, Anthony Mitchell

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker (1): Matt Stover

Punter: None.

Long snapper (1): Joe Maese

x-Allocated to NFL Europe and will return to the team by training camp

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