Club's equation: Can 8 go into 3?

Three days before camp, team still has eight draft picks left to ink

Signing season

July 18, 2008|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

With Joe Flacco ready to sign his contract, the Ravens' focus now shifts to getting the rest of their draft class into training camp on time.

The Ravens have three days to reach agreements with eight draft picks before the team reports to camp Monday.

A team official confirmed that the Ravens are hopeful that they will have all their rookies signed before coach John Harbaugh's first team meeting at Westminster.

Outside of first-round picks, the Ravens haven't had a rookie miss a training camp practice since 2002, when defensive end Anthony Weaver was a one-day holdout.

The Ravens' eight unsigned draft picks are running back Ray Rice (second round), linebacker Tavares Gooden (third), safety Tom Zbikowski (third), wide receiver Marcus Smith (fourth), offensive tackle David Hale (fourth), safety Haruki Nakamura (sixth), wide receiver Justin Harper (seventh) and running back Allen Patrick (seventh).

The team has had initial talks with all those rookies.

If the Ravens sign all of them, it would mark the second straight season they have avoided holdouts by their draft picks.

The only Ravens picks to agree to deals this year are Flacco and offensive tackle Oniel Cousins (third round).

Flacco's agent, Joe Linta, and the Ravens wrapped up weeks of negotiations Wednesday night, when the sides agreed on a five-year, $30 million contract that includes $8.75 million in guaranteed money.

Linta confirmed the five-year deal to The Sun, but the Ravens said there is nothing official.

In a statement issued on their Web site yesterday, the Ravens said the agreement is not "final" until Flacco signs it.

"We are confident that we will have a signed contract with Joe by the time we start training camp next Monday night," general manager Ozzie Newsome said.

Linta said yesterday that there are no issues surrounding the deal and Flacco will sign his contract when he reports Monday.

By avoiding a holdout, Flacco has a fair chance to compete against Troy Smith and Kyle Boller for the starting quarterback job. "I can't emphasize how happy everyone is," Linta said.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

SUNDAY

The Ravens open training camp under new coach John Harbaugh next week when rookies report Monday to McDaniel College in Westminster and take to the field Tuesday. In Sunday's Sun, look for insight into the big changes surrounding the Ravens, compelling camp story lines, things to do in Westminster and an overview of NFL teams heading into camp.

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