Ravens, McNair on same page

Report: QB agrees to contract parameters, $11M bonus, awaits move by Titans

May 05, 2006|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

If he is released or traded by the Tennessee Titans, Steve McNair will be ready to sign on immediately as the new Ravens quarterback.

The two-time Pro Bowl player has agreed on the parameters of a contract with the Ravens that will pay him a signing bonus close to $11 million and an additional $1 million in base salary, according to the NFL's Web site.

The length of the deal is not known.

The $12 million McNair would receive from the Ravens exceeds the $9 million he is scheduled to earn from the Titans this season.

A Ravens spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Tennessee must restructure McNair's contract, release him or trade him because he counts $23.46 million against its salary cap. The Titans, who are only $112,000 under the cap, need to reduce his cap number so they can sign draft picks and other free agents.

Titans officials gave McNair permission to speak to the Ravens on Sunday, which marked the team's first step in acquiring the 11-year veteran. A league source told The Sun on Sunday that McNair's agent seemed "agreeable" to a deal offered by the Ravens that afternoon during initial negotiations.

The Ravens attempted to trade for McNair on Sunday, offering a fifth-round pick on the draft's final day. But talks ended quickly when Tennessee wouldn't back off its demand for a fourth-round choice.

It is believed the teams have not spoken since Sunday. Titans general manager Floyd Reese said earlier in the week that the value of picks in the 2007 draft has gone up, insinuating that McNair could only be had now for a first-, second- or third-round pick.

There is a chance that McNair could become a free agent in about two weeks. His grievance - claiming the Titans breached their contract by barring him from working out at their facility - will be heard May 16.

The players union, which filed the grievance on McNair's behalf, contends Tennessee must allow him back into the training complex or release him. The Titans say they are within their legal rights to protect against an on-site injury, which would make the club liable for McNair's large cap number.

If McNair fails to become a free agent, the Ravens might be in for a much longer wait. A source has said the Titans are prepared to hold onto McNair until a week before training camp begins in late July if they don't receive an improved Ravens trade offer.

Ravens officials have acknowledged that a resolution could take weeks, but they privately don't expect Tennessee to keep McNair into July.

The Ravens have targeted McNair all offseason, opting not to pursue any available veteran quarterbacks. It is expected McNair would be given the starting job over Kyle Boller, who has been uneven in his three-year career.

If a deal is reached, the $11 million bonus is believed to be the highest ever that would be given to a quarterback in Ravens history.

The Ravens initially agreed on an $11 million bonus with Elvis Grbac in 2001, but they only gave him $5 million after declining to exercise an option that would have given him the other $6 million and triggered the final three years of his contract.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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