It's time for some action

Although the Ravens haven't pressed the panic button just yet, they're probably thinking about hitting the key. With the second wave of free agents hitting the open market on Monday, the Ravens are still cap strapped. They've still not made significant progress in negotiations with agents Eugene Parker and Roosevelt Barnes, who both represent Peter Boulware and Ray Lewis. More importantly, the Ravens still have many holes to fill on their team, and they need to replenish these holes soon.

At this point, both sides are not budging from their stances. The agents of Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware (Eugene Parker and Roosevelt Barnes) are adamant that both players should be given lucrative signing bonuses that exceed certain expectations. The Ravens are adamant that both players should be paid well, but within reason. Parker and Barnes will not back down from their demands right away, because they have no incentive to do so. Lewis and Boulware will not back down from their demands right away, because they presumably have no season to play for. The Ravens will not back down from their demands right away, because they refuse to go through cap hell yet again.

No matter who is right, and who is wrong, one thing is clear: The onus is ultimately on the Ravens to chisel out new contracts that will be fair for both the team, and both players. Now, the Ravens can approach this situation in three different ways:

  1.  Stand pat: The Ravens could just let things work itself out until August, when training camp gets under way. By then, the belief is that the agents' demands will wilt away to some degree. Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware could grow restless, knowing that they will ultimately have to own up to their responsibilities. They'll also grow tired of having to keep paying fines that are handed out to them for missing each day of camp. If the Ravens use this approach, they will surely miss their opportunity to add some solid free agents to their team.

  2.  Give in to their demands: This is simply not an option because it has not been in the Ravens' nature to just give in to any agents' demands. However, stranger things have happened before.

  3. Find the middle ground: Ah, now this sounds like the approach the Ravens have been taking so far. Finding the middle ground has been very tough for both sides involved in negotiations, but there has to be some give. First, the Ravens will probably have to come close to matching the signing bonus totals that both Lewis and Boulware desire. Boulware is reportedly seeking to be paid a $13 million bonus. Lewis wants a bonus that will pay him $20 million, the highest signing bonus in NFL history. Now, the Ravens shouldn't pay either player the exact amount of money they are seeking to be paid.

That said, they've got to at least be in the ballpark. Boulware should be offered a bonus that totals $10.5 million over a 6-year period. Lewis should be given a bonus that totals $18-$18.5 million over a 6-year period.

Now, if the Ravens offer both players close to what they are asking for in bonus totals, Barnes and Parker have to cut the team some slack by agreeing to accept less money over the life span of both contracts. Boulware should earn $25-$30 million (not including the bonus) over a 6-year span; Lewis should earn $30-$36 million (not including the bonus) over a 6-year span.

By hammering out both contracts within the next few weeks, the Ravens will finally be able to redeem themselves after having such a disastrous offseason thus far. If they can't work something out soon, things could keep getting uglier.


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