Ravens and Slaughter believe agreement just matter of time

Linebacker likely final key addition before draft

Pro Football

March 29, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Though T.J. Slaughter has yet to reach an agreement with the Ravens, both sides remain confident the linebacker will rejoin the team soon, citing circumstances more than differences as the reason Slaughter is still a free agent.

Slaughter appeared close to signing with the Ravens 10 days ago, but the final tinkering on a multi-year deal that should net him a bonus of $2 million to $4 million could not be completed because of the NFL meetings in Kapalua, Hawaii. Owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome and director of football administration Pat Moriarty represented the Ravens all last week.

"That's the thing that slowed us down," said Michael Huyghue, Slaughter's agent. "We were exchanging phone calls with a six-hour time difference."

Slaughter is likely to be the Ravens' last major addition before next month's draft. Nickel back Deion Sanders, whom the team wants to sign so he can participate in its offseason conditioning program, which started yesterday, is not expected to decide his future until later in the spring.

Once Slaughter signs, he will be penciled in as a starter on the weak side (the side without the tight end), though he has only one start in his 19-game stint with the Ravens. Slaughter recorded seven tackles filling in for an injured Ray Lewis in the season finale last season against the Miami Dolphins.

Slaughter does have experience at outside linebacker with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he recorded 100-tackle seasons in 2000 and 2002. He will team with Lewis and a combination of Peter Boulware and Adalius Thomas as the linebackers in what likely will be a switch to a 4-3 defense.

Even with the change to a defense that generally needs massive defensive tackles, team officials denied having any interest in signing former Green Bay Packer Gilbert Brown, who reportedly expressed a desire to come out of retirement to play for the Ravens last week.

The Ravens are expected to use a rotation of Kelly Gregg, Dwan Edwards, Maake Kemoeatu and Aubrayo Franklin at tackle.

NOTE: About 30 players attended the first day of the conditioning program.

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