Boller agrees to terms, quaterback battle to start

The orchestration of the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback competition just gained a touch of intrigue.<p> Strong-armed rookie quarterback Kyle Boller agreed to a five-year contract Wednesday evening, and the first-round pick from Cal was set to arrive at dawn today for football practice after holding out for three days.<p> Now, the battle for the starting spot becomes more complex with this key entrant to contend with incumbent Chris Redman and veteran Anthony Wright.<p>

"I still feel like I can compete for the job," Boller said from his parents' home near Los Angeles. "Those guys have been there, but I just want to go out there and show what I can do. I think the competition will make me better, Chris better and Anthony better.

"It was really tough. Nobody wants to hold out. It was just a business thing. It was pretty frustrating because I wanted to be there with the guys. I'm so happy now."

Ravens coach Brian Billick reiterated that Boller will still be under consideration to join the first offense. He acknowledged the obvious advantage Redman and Wright possess with their starting experience in the NFL.

"This has changed the equation a little bit," Billick said. "It's going to be tougher for him, but I'm not going to slam the door and say, 'No.' "The time lost is irretrievable, but, hopefully, we can make up that lost time for him. The time frame is a little bit better, and he's going to need every single rep he can get to catch up with the other two."

Since the draft, Billick has lauded Boller for his size, athleticism, intelligence and the velocity on his spirals.

The Ravens traded next year's first-round pick and this year's second-round pick to the New England Patriots to draft Boller with the 19th overall selection.

Billick said he anticipates Boller taking part in practice today in Westminster, but will probably hold him out of Friday night's scrimmage. That's annually a hard-hitting affair.

Fans' first glimpse of Boller in a simulated game will come Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Redman started six games last fall and went 3-3 with seven touchdowns, three interceptions and a 76.1 quarterback rating before aggravating a back injury suffered in college. That ended his season and required surgery last winter to repair a herniated disc.

Although Redman is still considered the favorite to be under center in the season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he will become an unrestricted free agent following this season. Redman said he welcomes Boller's arrival.

"Yeah, I'm glad it's over now," Redman said. "I'm excited. I talked to him Tuesday and he was kind of frustrated. He'll be a little behind, but he's a smart guy and he'll catch up."

Boller made a major improvement in his final season on the Berkeley campus under new coach Jeff Tedford. As a senior, he passed for 2,815 yards and 28 touchdowns with 53.4 percent accuracy during the Golden Bears' 7-5 campaign. Over the previous three seasons, Boller struggled with his accuracy and the team went a combined 7-21 as an erratic starter his first three years -- throwing 38 interceptions to go with 36 touchdowns.

Boller said he spent his time away from camp exercising intensely.

"I put myself through my own two-a-days and threw with some guys out here," Boller said.

Terms of Boller's deal weren't disclosed Wednesday as the paperwork was being finalized.

However, the Arizona Cardinals' Calvin Pace, the No. 18 pick, received a five-year contract reportedly worth as much as $11 million with a signing bonus and option bonus totaling $5.1 million.

Quarterback deals, particularly for prospective starters, are more lucrative, though.

It's believed Boller was seeking bonuses close to Pace's level of compensation.

According to published reports, Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, the No. 22 pick, signed a four-year deal worth up to $17 to $18 million that includes an optional fifth year.

"They were definitely very fair to me," Boller said.

Billick said he won't hold a grudge, but repeated his complaint that this contract wasn't reached in time for Boller to avoid becoming a holdout.

Boller and fellow first-round pick Terrell Suggs, who signed his contract Wednesday night, marks six holdouts of first-rounders in the Ravens' eight years.

"The parameters are set, so from that standpoint there really wasn't much left to talk about," Billick said. "It's hard for these young players to understand that, but that's true across the league.

"I don't know if it was worth the lost time, but obviously his representation thought it was. It will be a tall order for him to make up the ground he's lost."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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