Ray Lewis Contract Timeline

March 05, 2009|By Jamison Hensley

April 20, 1996:: Drafted by the Ravens with the 26th pick in the first round. Lewis was the fourth linebacker selected in that draft (behind Kevin Hardy, John Mobley and Reggie Brown).

July 15, 1996:: Signs five-year contract worth $5 million in time to report for first training camp. The deal includes a $1.3 million signing bonus.

Nov. 19, 1998:: Reaches a four-year contract extension that totals $26 million and includes a $7 million signing bonus. The new deal, which comes with two years still remaining on his rookie contract, makes him the NFL's highest-paid middle linebacker.

Aug. 5, 2000:: Agrees to restructure his contract, which gives him $4 million up front and later extends his deal by two years.

Aug. 1, 2002: : Signs a seven-year contract worth about $50 million that includes an NFL-record signing bonus of $19 million. Lewis' bonus represents the largest up-front, no-option payment in league history, surpassing the $16 million given to Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden before the 2000 season. This deal (which came with two years left on his contract) was supposed to be a contract that would allow Lewis to retire a Raven. "This is where I started my foundation and this [is] where I want to end it," he said. "Now, I can."

May 2005:: There are rumors Lewis wants a new contract worth $50 million. He has four years left on his NFL-record extension.

Feb. 21, 2006:: General manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledges Lewis asked to be traded before the 2005 season but added Lewis hasn't made any such request recently. It was during that season that Lewis appeared less vocal with teammates and made a habit of sitting alone on the bench during games.

April 20, 2006:: Lewis vents his frustration about not having space-eating defensive tackles in front of him that would allow him to roam free. "The issue is: Are you going to let me do what I do?" he asked. "And if not, let me go." Nine days later, the Ravens draft 340-pound defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

March 31, 2008:: Owner Steve Bisciotti says the franchise is in an "open dialogue" with Lewis about his contract situation. "If he becomes a free agent next year, I think the Ravens would probably outbid other teams," Bisciotti said. "We know Ray's value more than the other teams."

Jan. 21, 2009:: Bisciotti says he wants to sign Lewis to a new contract, but brings up a scenario in which Lewis might take a "hometown discount" to finish his career here.

Jan. 25, 2009:: Linebacker Terrell Suggs suggests that he, Lewis and Bart Scott give the Ravens a discount so all three free agents can return to the Ravens.

Jan. 29, 2009:: Lewis is noncommittal about his return to Baltimore. "What I'm thinking, nobody needs to know," Lewis said. "That's between me and God."

Feb. 4, 2009:: Lewis says he won't give the Ravens a hometown discount. "I don't play less," Lewis said. "If you don't play less, you don't take less. That's just life."

Feb. 8, 2009: : Ravens coach John Harbaugh says he's optimistic about the team's chances to re-sign Lewis. "I'm definitely convinced that Ray wants to finish his career a Baltimore Raven," he said.

Feb. 21, 2009: : Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware tells DallasCowboys.com Lewis told him it's his "dream" to play for Dallas.

Feb. 27, 2009: : Lewis becomes a free agent for the first time in his 13-year career.

Yesterday: : Lewis and the Ravens agree in principle to new contract.

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