Deadline expires for Ravens and McAlister

<b>Bonus Free Story!!</b><br>OWINGS MILLS – A deadline for the Baltimore Ravens to negotiate a contract extension for franchise player Chris McAlister expired Wednesday afternoon.<br><br> Because the Ravens and the Pro Bowl cornerback's agent, Mitch Frankel, have yet to reach a long-term pact, the team would be penalized by losing the right to wield the franchise tag again for the entire length of a new deal if a contract was reached between now and July 14.<br>

Following that date, the Ravens could sign McAlister to a new contract without penalty. There is no moratorium on talking during this period, just a penalty for formally ratifying a contract.

McAlister has said he wouldn't mind playing for the one-year tender of $7.154 million, a 20-percent salary increase from last season's $5.962 million. 

As the team's designated franchise player for the second consecutive year, McAlister is due the higher number between a one-year tender of the average salary for the top five players at his position, or 120 percent of last year's salary.

However, McAlister, 26, would prefer a new contract that includes a large signing bonus. This winter, cornerback Champ Bailey inked a seven-year deal with the Denver Broncos that's reportedly worth $63 million and includes an $18 million signing bonus.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has repeatedly said the team wants to negotiate a long-term extension for McAlister. McAlister improved markedly over the course of last season after being benched against the San Diego Chargers for breaking curfew and missing a team meeting.

The Ravens' 1999 first-round draft pick shut down newly-minted Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens when the All-Pro was with the 49ers.

Named to his first Pro Bowl last season, McAlister also had successful outings against the St. Louis Rams' Torry Holt, the Denver Broncos' Rod Smith, the Cincinnati Bengals' Chad Johnson and the Pittsburgh Steelers' Plaxico Burress.

McAlister has said he's not inclined to pursue offers from other teams. Signing elsewhere is an unlikely scenario for the defensive back because the Ravens would be compensated with two first-round draft picks if they opted not to match a competing offer sheet.

Meanwhile, the agent for defensive end Raylee Johnson said he doesn't have an offer yet from Baltimore. Brad Blank said he has similar offers from the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers, adding that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers inquired about Johnson on Wednesday. 

Johnson, who has 46 sacks in a decade with the Chargers, expressed interest in the Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders during his visit earlier this week to the Ravens' training complex.

Blank said the Ravens told him they will closely monitor other teams' interest in Johnson and would likely react to offers depending upon the asking price.

NOTES: The agents for unrestricted free agent receivers Bill Schroeder, Dez White and Curtis Conway said they have yet to hear from the Ravens following the settlement that rescinded a trade for Owens and sent him to the Eagles. ... Tim McGee, the agent for restricted free agent receiver Alex Bannister, said Baltimore has an interest in the Seattle Seahawks' Pro Bowl special-teams selection, but nothing is imminent. ... Jerome Stanley, who represents Cleveland wide receiver Dennis Northcutt, said there hasn't been any indication from the Browns that they are willing to trade Northcutt. … The Bengals have reportedly made a four-year, $16 million offer for seven-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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