Boller, Suggs hold out as Ravens report

As the Baltimore Ravens unpacked their luggage upon arrival at training camp Sunday in Westminster, the football team's inventory didn't include first-round draft picks Terrell Suggs and Kyle Boller. Both rookies are holding out as contract negotiations continue. So, the team anticipates opening practice this morning without Suggs, the 10th overall pick and a projected starter at outside linebacker, and Boller, a strong-armed passer selected 19th overall to compete with incumbent Chris Redman.

While this business situation remains unresolved, Ravens coach Brian Billick offered clarity on his approach to avoiding a distraction at quarterback.

"The difficulty in going into camp without a starting quarterback is that it's not good for the team, but it's the situation we are in right now," said Billick, adding that he won't offer daily updates on who's in the lead for the job, declare who will start preseason games or the division of snaps. "There are a lot of pitfalls. To avoid that, what we're going to do is real clear-cut.

"From this point on, no one in the organization, coach, player or administrator, is going to talk about the quarterback competition. When I decide who the quarterback is going to be, I will let you know."

Redman started six games last fall before aggravating a herniated disc in his lower back that ended his season and eventually required surgery.

Now, he's healthy again and Billick went out of his way to compliment Redman on Sunday.

"Chris Redman is an excellent young quarterback," Billick said. "We have a great deal of faith in Chris Redman. My words have matched my deeds in regards to Chris Redman and anyone who portrays otherwise we're going to go round and round a little bit."

Potentially clouding Redman's future outlook, though, is the fact that he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season along with the question of how his back will respond to contact.

Redman responded well to rehabilitation after his surgery and demonstrated improved velocity and movement in minicamps.

"I think you always have something to prove to be a starter in this league," Redman said. "It feels better than ever, great. I don't think it will cause any problems at all."

Billick has lauded Boller for his arm strength, mobility and intelligence. Yet, he noted that a holdout will simplify this quarterback derby.

"The best man is going to win the job whether Kyle is here or not," receiver Frank Sanders said. "My heart is open to whoever they choose, but I do want the best guy on the field that can help us win.

"Kyle has a cannon. He's one of those guys who's a gunslinger, but he also needs to learn the system."

In terms of the contract disputes, philosophical differences over signing bonuses and incentive clauses have stalled discussions.

Billick said that the Ravens have made an offer to Boller higher than what Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman received as the 22nd overall pick. Grossman reportedly signed a deal that could pay him up to $17 to $18 million.

"Kyle is disappointed he's not in camp," said Mike Sullivan, Boller's agent. "He will be there as soon as he has a fair offer from the Ravens."

Sullivan has said the Ravens won't model their offer after what Jets quarterback Chad Pennington received as the 18th overall pick in 2000, or include escalator clauses superior to what Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey got as last year's 32nd overall choice.

Suggs' deal is likely to eventually fall between pacts signed by Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams (No. 9) and Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant (No. 11).

Complicating matters is Williams' lucrative deal that could pay as much as $12.5 million, including split signing bonuses totaling $8 million.

That dwarfs the five-year deal for John Henderson, last year's ninth pick. Henderson's contract is worth $10.23 million with split bonuses of $2.896 million and $3.69 million. The Ravens don't want to pay for the Vikings' extravagance.

According to a published report, Trufant's split bonuses add up to $7.5 million on a deal that could pay as much as $9.4 million to $10.16 million.

"This isn't rocket science or sportswriting," Billick said. "It's just a matter of the parties recognizing that we have a solid offer on the table that represents the 10th spot based on nine and 11."

Suggs' agent, Gary Wichard, didn't return telephone calls.

Boller and Suggs' absence marks six holdouts of first-rounders in the Ravens' eight seasons. Now, the waiting game begins as camp commences.

Suggs' father said his son was on a mountain camping trip in Arizona on Sunday.

"Terrell's feeling frustrated about this," Donald Suggs said. "Hopefully, they can come to a meeting of the minds."

NOTE: Sixth-round pick Gerome Sapp signed a three-year contract worth $983,000 that included a signing bonus of $73,000 for the safety from Notre Dame.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

Ravens Insider Top Stories