Ravens' McAlister fails to get long-term deal

Contract for cornerback unlikely before July 14

Pro Football

March 18, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The Ravens and cornerback Chris McAlister failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract yesterday, increasing the likelihood the team's franchise player will not sign until mid-July at the earliest.

If the Ravens and McAlister consummate a deal between today and July 14, the Ravens would lose the right to use the franchise tag again on another player over the length of McAlister's contract. After July 14, the Ravens can sign McAlister to an extension with no penalty.

McAlister will receive a one-year, $7.1 million salary this season if the sides fail to reach an agreement. That entire salary now counts against the Ravens' salary cap, though the team still has ample room to sign free agents.

Teams must pay a franchise player a minimum of the average salary of the top five players at his position, or 120 percent of his previous season's salary. That average for a cornerback is $6.8 million, but McAlister will receive roughly $310,000 more since he was the Ravens' franchise player last season.

Cornerback Champ Bailey set the structure for a player of McAlister's caliber earlier this month after he agreed to a six-year, $50 million deal with the Denver Broncos that includes a signing bonus of nearly $18 million.

Bailey, though, is a four-time Pro Bowl player, and it is unlikely McAlister, who made his first Pro Bowl last season, can command such a high signing bonus.

McAlister's agent, Mitch Frankel, could not be reached to comment.

NOTE: Defensive end Raylee Johnson, who visited the Ravens earlier this week, has received offers from Denver and San Diego, and could sign by the end of the week. The Ravens have not begun negotiations with Johnson.

Sun staff writer Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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