Ravens re-sign Stover

OWINGS MILLS – Matt Stover is one of the most accurate and prolific kickers in NFL history.<br><br> The Pro Bowl alternate didn't want to miss his shot at staying with the Baltimore Ravens for the remainder of his career. <br><br> By signing a five-year contract Tuesday, the last original Cleveland Brown currently with the team to move with Art Modell to Baltimore in 1996 split the uprights financially. Stover hopes he'll never have to become an unrestricted free agent again.<br>

"I'm looking forward to the next five years," said Stover, the franchise's all-time scoring leader who converted two game-winning field goals in overtime last season. "God willing, I will be able to finish out here and retire a Baltimore Raven. That is my plan, and if it all works out, we will go to another Super Bowl."

Stover, 36, eschewed overtures from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals, teams coached by former Ravens assistants Jack Del Rio and Marvin Lewis, to stay in Baltimore. His agent, Jim Steiner, declined to disclose terms, but said the first three years of the deal exceeded the Jaguars' top offer, adding that Stover will rank among the upper tier of kickers in terms of compensation.

"In the era of the salary cap, it's very rare where a player gets the chance to finish his career where he has played the majority of it," general manager Ozzie Newsome said of Stover, who joined the franchise in 1991. "He has developed from a young kicker into one of the most consistent kickers in the history of the game. What we can be proud of is that Matt wanted to be a Baltimore Raven."

Within his 239 career attempts inside 40 yards, Stover has missed only 15 field-goal tries.

That's a 93.7 percent success rate.

Special teams coach Gary Zauner referred to Stover as Mr. Clutch.

"I am greatly relieved," Zauner said.

Last year, Stover ranked third in the NFL with 134 points, going 33-for-38 on field-goal attempts and making all 35 of his extra points.
Stover also moved up to 17th on the all-time scoring list (1,364 points) and fifth in scoring among active players last season. He has the fourth-highest all-time career field goal percentage: 82.3 percent
"If we cross the 30, we know that we have three points on the board at the minimum," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "That factors into our game plans. When you have that on campus, it is a real comfort zone."

Stover will be joined again by Wade Richey, one of the top kickoff specialists in the NFL. Richey agreed in principle to a one-year pact on Monday.

"I don't mind saying kickoffs take it out of you," Stover said. "The older you get, the more your body tends to break down. I don't mind saying after you kick a field goal and you can sit on the bench and watch another guy kick it downfield, that is a good thing.

Stover was a Pro Bowl selection in 2000 when he led the NFL with a career-high 135 points.

He holds the league mark with 38 games in a row with at least one field goal.

Stover became the 15th player in NFL history with 300 field goals with a successful 39-yard kick in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos last October.

When asked if he will retire at the end of this deal or if he'll continue the trend of older kickers like Gary Anderson and Morten Anderson, Stover said: "At the end of the deal, I will be 41, so I will have to assess it at that time. If it was up to coach, he said a few years ago, ‘I don't know how much longer you will be here.' .. I don't see a point why I couldn't finish it out."

NOTES: The Ravens hosted former Broncos offensive tackle Ephraim Salaam, 27, on Tuesday, but didn't sign him. Salaam is also a blocking candidate for the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears. …

Newsome said the team is still talking with Orlando Brown, 33, who has visited the Oakland Raiders, Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 6-foot-7, 365-pounder is seeking a $4 million signing bonus. The Raiders and Ravens are now reportedly his top choices. Brown may have some interest in Denver, too. … 

The team is still trying to retain free agents like outside linebacker Adalius Thomas and backup quarterback Anthony Wright. Wright has been mentioned by Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese as a potential reserve behind All-Pro Steve McNair. ... Defensive back Tom Knight visited the New York Jets.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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