Talks with Ngata are still on hold

`Slotting' issue for Ravens' top draft pick likely to delay negotiations to next week

July 20, 2006|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

Because of some potential "slotting" difficulties, talks between the Ravens and their first-round pick Haloti Ngata are not expected to heat up until next week.

That could mean a tight deadline for the Ravens, who report to Westminster's McDaniel College in a week (July 27). It has been five years since the Ravens signed a first-round pick before the start of camp.

The problem with Ngata, a defensive tackle, could be determining his market value, which is established through slotting (basing deals on what the player in front of your pick and the player behind him received).

But the deals for the two players drafted ahead of Ngata (Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler) are not applicable this time because quarterback contracts are higher than other position players.

It seems the best way to find a framework for Ngata's contract is to look at the deals for the players drafted after him, Cleveland Browns pass rusher Kamerion Wimbley (13th pick) and Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley (14th).

Wimbley and Bunkley both could be signed by the beginning of next week.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the Eagles are hopeful they'll have a deal done with Bunkley by today, when rookies and selected veterans are scheduled to report to training camp.

The Browns want to have Wimbley signed before rookies report on Sunday.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome did not express any concerns yesterday about signing his first-round pick. He also disagreed with the assessment that having two quarterbacks drafted ahead of Ngata makes it more difficult in "slotting" him.

Asked further about negotiations with Ngata, Newsome said, "We are having contractual talks with all of our unsigned draft picks."

Ngata's agent, Mike McCartney, did not return phone calls yesterday.

The Ravens made a dent in signing their draft picks when they reached deals with four of them Tuesday. The remaining unsigned picks are: Ngata, offensive lineman Chris Chester (second round), cornerback David Pittman (third), receiver Demetrius Williams (fourth), safety Dawan Landry (fifth) and linebacker Ryan LaCasse (seventh).

Ngata is the only rookie assured of starting this season. A run-stuffing cog from the University of Oregon, Ngata provides much-needed size to the Ravens' defensive front.

Note -- Jonathan Ogden will be featured on the cover of the Ravens' media guide. It's the first such honor for the nine-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman.jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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