Baltimore Ravens Wrap Up - Monday

The Ravens likely will keep the franchise tag on Chris McAlister for a second straight year. Baltimore and the Pro Bowl cornerback failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract by March 17, which means the sides won't resume talks until the summer. The more telling sign is that neither the Ravens nor McAlister seem motivated to get a new deal done. The sides didn't meet and there was little communication to bridge their sizable gap in negotiations.

Now, talks will be suspended for four months. But based on recent talks, there's no reason to think that time will help the situation.

If the Ravens and McAlister consummate a deal between today and July 14, the Ravens would lose the right to use the franchise tag again on another player over the length of McAlister's contract. After July 14, the Ravens can sign McAlister to an extension with no penalty.

McAlister will receive a one-year, $7.1 million salary this season if the sides fail to reach an agreement. That entire salary now counts against the Ravens' salary cap, though the team still has ample room to sign free agents.

Teams must pay a franchise player a minimum of the average salary of the top five players at his position, or 120 percent of his previous season's salary. That average for a cornerback is $6.8 million, but McAlister will receive roughly $310,000 more since he was the Ravens' franchise player last season.

For McAlister, the starting point for a long-term deal is the one recently signed by cornerback Champ Bailey. He agreed to a six-year, $50 million deal with the Denver Broncos that includes a signing bonus of nearly $18 million.

But the Ravens likely won't spend that much on McAlister. Bailey is a four-time Pro Bowl player, and it is unlikely McAlister, who made his first Pro Bowl last season, can command such a high signing bonus.

McAlister's agent, Mitch Frankel, could not be reached to comment.

NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
--The three-team settlement that resolved Terrell Owens' dispute over free agency -- and ultimately overturned the Pro Bowl receiver's trade to Baltimore -- cost the Ravens the most.
While the Philadelphia Eagles got Owens and the San Francisco 49ers got targeted defensive lineman Brandon Whiting, the Ravens were given the Eagles' fifth-round pick. In a matter of 12 days, the Ravens went from being assured of having one of the game's top playmakers to being compensated with the 155th 

When asked if the Ravens were fairly compensated, Baltimore coach Brian Billick said, "What's fair and what's right can be two different things. Yeah, I think we were injured in this process, as were our fans. We tried to do this the right way at every turn. We were told by the management council that we were within our rights and now it goes the other way. To so summarily be dismissed, it's disappointing. It's very frustrating. "But we'll move ahead. We always have a backup plan and we'll put that in effect."

--Defensive end Raylee Johnson, who was the Ravens' second free-agent visitor, has signed with Denver.

--The Ravens have not been active with free-agent visits since most of their brain trust is currently away. Coach Brian Billick is on a short vacation, and general manager Ozzie Newsome is in Florida for competition committee meetings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It wasn't a matter of anything wrong with Baltimore. My thing was getting my shot at free agency. I have no hard feelings toward the fans or organization in Baltimore." -- Terrell Owens when asked why he chose Philadelphia over Baltimore.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The loss of Terrell Owens created a big void for the Ravens at receiver. After thinking for two weeks that they addressed their most pressing need, the Ravens are in a worse situation than before. The thin free-agent market for receivers is essentially dried up, and Baltimore will focus on the draft to improve one of the worst receiving corps in the league.

The Ravens' first pick in the draft is in the second round. Addressing defensive line and nickel back could happen in the draft or in June. 

NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES: Receiver (Without Terrell Owens, the Ravens need to find an impact receiver. Baltimore could use a couple of picks in the draft to try to upgrade at receiver); Offensive line (The Ravens are showing some age on their physical front. It wouldn't be surprising if the team invests in a young tackle to groom). Secondary (The Ravens are set with two Pro Bowl selections in Ed Reed and Chris McAlister along with up-and-comer Gary Baxter. But this secondary could be an elite one with a solid free safety).

FRANCHISE PLAYER: CB Chris McAlister (tendered at $7.154M).

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (4): LB Bernardo Harris; TE John Jones; DE Riddick Parker; QB Chris Redman.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (8): OG Bennie Anderson; OT Damion Cook; DE Marques Douglas; LB Edgerton Hartwell; LS Joe Maese; C Casey Rabach; FB Alan Ricard; CB Raymond Walls.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS (3): S Will Demps; WR Randy Hymes; DE Ma'ake Kemoeatu.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: OT Orlando Brown; C Mike Flynn; PK Wade Richey; LS Mike Solwold; PK Matt Stover; LB Adalius Thomas; QB Anthony Wright.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: None.

PLAYERS LOST: CB Tom Knight.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.


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