Ravens notebook

OWINGS MILLS - The Baltimore Ravens hammered out a five-year, $32 million contract Tuesday night with versatile offensive lineman Marshal Yanda, locking him up days before the veteran free agent could have signed with any NFL team. The deal includes a $10 million signing bonus and a $21 million payout over the first three years

One day after informing wide receiver Derrick Mason, tight end Todd Heap, running back Willis McGahee and nose guard Kelly Gregg that they will be cut from the roster Thursday to create $18.6 million in savings against the salary cap, the Ravens accomplished their top business priority by holding onto Yanda.

Without those pending transactions, the Ravens wouldn't have been competitive with other teams to bid on Yanda. The Washington Redskins were among the teams extremely interested in Yanda. "We're just working," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Everything is going really fast."

The Ravens hope to move the gritty former pig farmer from Iowa back to his natural right offensive guard spot after he started every game at right tackle last season when Jared Gaither hurt his back. At 6-foot-3, 315-pounds, the thick- bearded former third-round draft pick provides a stout blocking presence at the line of scrimmage. By keeping Yanda before he officially hit free agency Friday night, the Ravens can now see if rookie Jah Reid, Oniel Cousins or Ramon Harewood emerges as a reliable right tackle. If they aren't up to the task, the Ravens can shift Yanda back outside.

"He told us he wanted to be a Raven and he understood the business part that he had to go through," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I'm beaming. We're a better team than we were one hour ago."

The Ravens aren't expected to retain Gaither as a free agent or center-guard Chris Chester. Newsome met with Mason and McGahee on Tuesday. Both players took exit physicals and are preparing to be cut Thursday. The Ravens could explore other receiver possibilities like Malcom Floyd. McGahee could wind up with the Denver Broncos. They aren't happy with former first-round pick Knowshon Moreno. The Ravens are looking to also keep cornerback Josh Wilson and have yet to hold discussions with fellow free agent cornerback Chris Carr. Carr has been contacted by other teams.

The Ravens could also clear up more salary-cap room by signing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, their franchise player.

"A lot of crazy stuff is going to happen with free agency," Harbaugh said. "That's going to be tough. That's going to be challenging. Top priority is going to work, start meeting, start practice, start on football."

FOXWORTH LOOKING TO START: One year after being lost for the entire season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, cornerback Domonique Foxworth has no intentions of beginning training camp on the physically unable to perform list

Foxworth took a physical Monday and said he feels like he's ready to go.

"I have full intentions of getting out there and contributing right away," Foxworth said. "I don't know what their plan is, but I'm going to give them the best that I can give them and hopefully it means that I'm starting in Week One." The Ravens drafted Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith in the first round and also return former third-round pick Lardarius Webb. At this point, the Ravens could go with Foxworth opposite Smith or Webb. Wilson and Carr's unresolved status makes them wild cards. Foxworth was noticeably favoring his leg during an informal player workout at Towson University during the NFL lockout, but seems to be doing better now.

"It's been up and down through the offseason to be frank with you where there were days when it felt great and days when it felt really, really bad," Foxworth said. "Lately, it's felt great. The real important thing that I haven't been able to do is play real, live football. So before I get way ahead of myself and say this is as good as I ever was, I feel that way, but I need to go out there and go up against Anquan Boldin and real Pro Bowl caliber receivers to really measure. That's a little different than running out on your own."

After toiling away in labor talks for the past four months as an NFL Players Association executive committee member, Foxworth pointed out that union participation isn't usually a good thing as far as job security going forward. "It's not a secret that guys over the years and in the history of relationships with the Players Association and the NFL, guys who are in the forefront, become really expendable, and they become black-balled around the league really soon," Foxworth said. "So, I'm sure my day is coming. I had a talk with my wife about two years ago before I took a prominent role in the players' association, and she said it was OK. I know the worst thing they can do to me is throw me out. So, she's comfortable with it, I'm comfortable with it, and we'll wait for it to happen. Until then, I hope I can ball out and do my thing for Baltimore until I'm out on my ass." UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS: Undrafted rookie running back Walter Sanders can't wait to get started. The Baltimore native and Mervo graduate agreed to a free-agent deal with the Ravens after months of being mentored by Ray Rice.

"I'm ready to rock and roll," he said in a telephone interview. "Ray is a great mentor. This is a dream come true for me to play for the Ravens. I've been a fan of the team ever since they got to town. I'm so excited."

Meanwhile, the Ravens also agreed to deals with University of Maryland wide receiver LaQuan Williams, another Baltimore native, Syracuse center Ryan Bartholomew, a DeMatha Catholic graduate, Hawaii safety Mana Silva, Washington safety Nate Williams, Oregon State cornerback James Dockery, Ohio State offensive lineman Nate Boren and University of Miami running back Damien Berry, among others.

They were linked to inspirational Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, who overcame a rare form of bone cancer to start every game last fall, and Pitt fullback Henry Hynoski. However, both players chose to go with the New York Giants.

HOPING TO SIGN QUICKLY: Top draft picks Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith took their physicals Tuesday, but couldn't take the conditioning test because they're not under contract. Both players have the same agent: Drew Rosenhaus. "I think it will be done quickly," Smith said. "At least I hope so. I am ready to play some football, but I know it is definitely going to be hectic. There is paperwork everywhere. They are working hard, so hopefully something will get done soon."

CODY IS LIGHTER: Reporting with a much leaner physique than a year ago, nose guard Terrence Cody is down to 350 pounds. "Just mainly running and trying to keep my conditioning up and drop weight," Cody said. "It was just like my caloric intake. That's more of what I changed up. I feel like I can play more than I did last year.

"I feel like I can play all three downs If I get that chance. I feel like I could have played last year, but I had an injury that slowed me down and it took a while to get into playing shape after the injury slowed me down."

The massive former Alabama consensus All-American may be a starter this year now that Kelly Gregg is going to be cut from the roster Thursday. "Kelly Gregg was a mentor and a teacher to me and he was a big part of me learning a lot last year and just how to play it as a nose guard in this system," Cody said. "That's what he taught me. When I heard that, it was a shock to me because I thought that he would be one of the guys that would come back this year."

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