Clayton becomes Ravens' latest holdout

WESTMINSTER -- The Baltimore Ravens' inventory upon checking into the team hotel Sunday for training camp didn't include first-round draft pick Mark Clayton.

The wide receiver is the Ravens' lone unsigned player, extending a four-year streak of holdouts.

When asked if he was disappointed to not to have Clayton under contract, Ravens coach Brian Billick said: "Yeah, particularly when you know it could have been avoided. I'll be willing to bet that the contract we agree on eventually -- whether it's tomorrow, the next day, a week from now like every other holdout we've had -- it's pretty much the same contract that we could agree on today. It doesn't change much."

The framework for Clayton's contract as the No. 22 overall pick was established when Oakland Raiders cornerback Fabian Washington signed a five-year deal worth $7.8 million that includes $5.3 million in bonuses.

When asked if the parameters to strike a deal are set, Billick replied: "You would certainly think so, wouldn't you?"

The unsigned status of Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Matt Jones, the pick above Clayton, could be affecting negotiations although neither side indicated exactly what's causing the holdup.

"There is always a sense of urgency," said Jim Steiner, one of Clayton's representatives. "But we know and they know a deal can be struck at anytime."

Two of Clayton's agents' other first-round clients, Carnell Williams and Jammal Brown, agreed to terms a few hours prior to their team's opening practice.

The Ravens are running an abbreviated training camp that breaks Aug. 19. Missing time could set Clayton back as he tries to establish himself as a starter opposite veteran Derrick Mason while competing with Clarence Moore.

"Hopefully, he'll get in quickly," Billick said. "With a short, quick, aggressive camp, this is like the summer school classes you took that condensed eight weeks into four. If you miss one of those classes, you've missed a lot. If you miss one of these workouts, you're going to miss a lot."

Clayton remains in the area and ready to report once his contract is finalized.

Reached by telephone Sunday night, Clayton said he didn't know what was delaying the deal.

Asked when he thought it might get done, the rookie said, "Hopefully, tomorrow."

CODY, BROWN REPORT: Linebacker Dan Cody, the Ravens' second round pick and center Jason Brown, a fourth-round pick, agreed to terms and reported on time.

Cody agreed to a four-year contract with undisclosed terms.

Brown signed a three-year deal worth $1.234 million that included a $309,500 signing bonus and base salaries of $230,000 in 2005, $310,000 in 2006 and $385,000 in 2007.

"I didn't want to miss anything," said Cody, who took an early-morning flight from Oklahoma. "There's a lot of new things I haven't done before, so it's important to be here from the beginning."

MEDICAL REPORT: The Ravens plan to take a cautious approach with several veterans.

That group includes nickel back Deion Sanders (toe), nickel back Dale Carter (missed 2004 with a blood clot in his lungs), offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo (recent arthroscopic knee surgery to remove gout), offensive tackle Orlando Brown (knee) and center Mike Flynn (back spasms).

A few of the players may be limited to one practice a day.

"We have a lot of guys that we'll just have to monitor real closely," Billick said.

R&R: Billick said he plans to institute early-morning meetings while continuing to allow veterans to spend the night at home beginning Wednesday night. Rookies are required to sleep at the team hotel during camp.

"When I did that last year, I was concerned that there's going to be the inevitable, a guy's going to get caught in traffic, get a flat tire," Billick said. "We didn't have one incident. They earned the right to go home this year."

BEARDED ONE: Sporting a gray beard that has drawn joking comparisons to Zenmaster basketball coach Phil Jackson and actor Tom Hanks' scruff from the movie, ‘Castaway,' Billick said he has no immediate plans to shave it off.

"The weather is a good indicator as to how long this thing stays on," Billick said. "You all say no, my wife says yes. The yeas have it."

MESSAGE: The words, "A New Beginning," were stenciled on the playbooks.


Aaron Wilson is the chief writer for RavensInsider.Com He is also the Ravens' reporter for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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