Ravens, Ryan agree on two-year contract

Deal expected to pay up to $1.2M per year

April 21, 2007|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun reporter

The Ravens and Rex Ryan have agreed on a two-year contract that will make Ryan one of the highest-paid defensive coordinators in the NFL, according to both Ryan and general manager Ozzie Newsome.

Newsome confirmed the deal yesterday but said the two sides reached the agreement a couple of weeks ago. The initial negotiations started soon after the Ravens' 15-6 playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 13. Newsome would not discuss Ryan's salary, but Ryan is expected to make between $1 million and $1.2 million a season. Last year, Ryan, in his eighth season as a Ravens assistant, oversaw the league's top-ranked defense.

The Ravens finished No. 5 in total defense in 2005, Ryan's first season as defensive coordinator. Ryan had one year remaining on his former contract.

"I'm excited about it," Ryan said of the new contract. "Now, I don't have to worry about finding another job as a coordinator, I can just go out and worry about kicking butt. I'll be honest with you, it was weighing on me a little bit. I've spent eight years here in Baltimore. I can always go out and find a job as a defensive coordinator, but this is my home and these are our players.

"We have something special here, and I want to continue it. If I'm not a head coach somewhere in the league, there is no other place I'd rather be. Now, I'm just glad to get this out of the way and focus. The contract is fair; it's what the Ravens always wanted and what I wanted."

Until now, Ryan was one of the lowest-paid defensive coordinators in the league. Negotiations broke down between the club and Ryan about two months ago, but the two sides agreed with intercession from head coach Brian Billick.

"It's negotiations. There are always discussions, always some extending guidelines," Newsome said. "We've always tried to get our assistant coaches to sign two-year deals before the start of the next season. I don't know where this deal is compared to Gregg Williams [Redskins] and Dom Capers [Dolphins] and some of the others at the top, but Rex Ryan has to be happy with the compensation or he wouldn't have signed. Obviously, he is happy with the contract and finds it fair."

Ryan was a hot commodity as a head coaching prospect after last season, and reportedly was a finalist for the San Diego job until the Chargers hired Norv Turner. There are many around the league who expect Ryan to be a top candidate again after the 2007 season, but if he isn't, he'll stay with the Ravens.

"We had to keep him around, lock him up as long as possible," Ravens linebacker Bart Scott said. "With him, it's like having two head coaches, with one of them being on the defensive side of the ball. He has the Ryan name, the pedigree. I can see him becoming a head coach next year, at the most two, but until then, we want him here as long as possible."

Last season, the Ravens allowed a league-best 12.6 points and 264.1 yards per game. They also led the NFL in interceptions with 28. The Ravens' 40 take-aways and 60 sacks were both second best in the league.

Ryan has been known for his swarming, gambling, pressuring defense. At times his style is unorthodox, but that's one of the things players like about him.

"He let's us do what we want to do. He let's us play," rookie defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "He has his ideas, but he doesn't force them on you. He lets you have input, and then he puts in the game plan and says let's roll with it. He's a straightforward guy and not going to put you in a position to fail."

Defensive players are excited about Ryan staying. Linebacker Jarret Johnson recently signed a five-year deal and had been worried that Ryan would leave before the ink was dry.

"I don't know how much longer the Ravens can keep a guy with so much knowledge around without him becoming a head coach," Johnson said. "But I'm glad he'll be here for a little longer."

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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