Billick: R. Lewis staying put

OWINGS MILLS -- Ravens coach Brian Billick attempted some damage control in a reaction to reports that perennial All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis wants out of Baltimore.

Lewis hasn't made it a secret in NFL circles that he is chasing one last big signing bonus. However, it's a demand the Ravens aren't going to meet after signing Lewis to a $19 million signing bonus in 2002 as part of a $50 million landmark contract.

The team isn't prone to trading Lewis, who turns 31 in a few months and is recovering from hamstring surgery. Lewis has three years remaining on his contract with base salaries of $5.5 million in 2006 and $6.5 million in 2007 and 2008.

"Ray's future is going to be in Baltimore," Billick said in an interview on the NFL Network at the scouting combine. "There's been a lot of speculation about Ray Lewis, but until I actually talk to Ray I have no reason to believe Ray is not going to be with us or have a great season."

Billick elaborated on the decision not to assign a $6 million franchise tag to running back Jamal Lewis, who slumped to a career-low 906 yards following a prison sentence and ankle surgery.

"The difference between what we thought was a market-value contract and his representative was too far apart," Billick said. "The franchise tag is a difficult thing. It rarely goes well. The player can feel betrayed."

However, Billick said the team would still love to have Lewis back. This follows Lewis stating that he wants a fresh start elsewhere after a controversial season where he repeatedly criticized Billick and the offensive scheme.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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