Ravens sign Smith, Mabry, no deal for first picks

OWINGS MILLS - The Baltimore Ravens kept inching toward their goal of signing their draft picks before players report to training camp in Westminster on Sunday. Progressing toward agreements with the majority of their rookie class, the Ravens negotiated three-year contracts with seventh-round selections Trent Smith and Mike Mabry on Thursday, leaving the club with four unsigned picks However, players who have reached accords doesn't include first-round selections Terrell Suggs and Kyle Boller.

Smith, a tight end from Oklahoma, and Mabry, a center from Central Florida, agreed to deals with total values of $948,250 and nearly $935,000, respectively, including minimum base salaries of $225,000, $305,000 and $380,000.

In the case of Boller, a potential holdout looms for the 19th pick of the first round because of discussions that have stalled over a difference of opinion on signing bonus and escalator clauses. No progress was made regarding the rookie quarterback's situation on Thursday.

"Negotiations are ongoing," said Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome, adding that the club has been exchanging proposals with Suggs' agent, Gary Wichard. "A lot can happen in three days. We're still talking."

Meanwhile, Ravens coach Brian Billick, who stated earlier this week that Boller will not be allowed to compete with incumbent Chris Redman to open the season as the starter if he becomes a holdout, opted not to pour verbal gasoline on the dispute.

"I believe Kyle will be in camp," Billick said. "Everybody knows that's in his best interests and I'm not going to insert myself into the process. I've advised Kyle to do the same."

On Tuesday, Boller's agent, Mike Sullivan, said the Ravens are unwilling to model a contract proposal after the one New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington received in 2000 as the 18th overall selection.

Sullivan said the Ravens offered a significant decrease in signing bonus from the $3.3 million Denver Broncos wide receiver Ashley Lelie got last year as the 19th pick of the first round. Also, the agent said the club's proposed escalator clauses don't approach what Washington Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey received a year ago as the 32nd pick of the first round.

Pennington signed a five-year contract for nearly $6.5 million with escalators that could boost the total worth of his deal to as high as $23 million.

He was originally slotted to make $385,000 as a backup in 2003, but will likely earn $5.2 million in salary this year by taking 70 percent of the snaps along with reaching various individual and team incentive categories.

Ramsey signed a five-year deal for $5.7 million with a signing bonus of $3.1 million along with escalator clauses that could increase the annual salaries between $2.5 and $3 million per season and bump the deal up to roughly $15 million.

As for Suggs, the 10th overall pick from last year, Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Levi Jones, received a five-year contract worth $8.475 million, including a signing bonus of $4.05 million.

Seattle Seahawks rookie cornerback Marcus Trufant, the 11th overall pick this year, agreed to terms on Wednesday. Under the slotting principle, the Ravens' work on Suggs' contract may have just been simplified.

"One of the nice byproducts of coming to camp this late is the slotting that takes place," Billick said. "The other signings set parameters that should make our signings easier. First-round draft choices take a while. The other guys, they'll be signed. For a second-day guy to miss camp is suicidal."

NOTE: Newsome said he expects franchise player Chris McAlister to sign his tender of $5.962 million before checking into the team hotel on Sunday. Having a signed contract is a requirement for any player to attend camp.

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