Ravens come to terms with rookie Ron Johnson

At last, a touch of progress. The Baltimore Ravens announced the first signing of one of their 10 draft selections Thursday afternoon, reaching a three-year accord with wide receiver Ron Johnson. The total worth of the fourth-round selection's contract is $1,181 million, including a $276,000 signing bonus. Johnson's deal includes some incentive and escalator clauses, and carries the minimum base salaries of $225,000 this season, $300,000 next year and $380,000 in his third year.

However, it's only an agreement in principle until Johnson actually lends his signature to paper.

As the 123rd overall pick out of Minnesota, Johnson's deal differs from the contract that Ohio State tight end Darnell Sanders reportedly received from the Cleveland Browns as the 122nd pick in the draft. Sanders was awarded a signing bonus of $370,000 with the minimum rookie base salary of $225,000 for this season, with standard escalators of $300,000 in 2003, $380,000 in 2004 and $455,000 in 2005.

 Sanders signed a four-year deal for $1.73 million with an estimated immediate salary cap impact of $317,500.

"Anytime you get picked in the fourth round, the deals are pretty standard," said Doug Hendrickson, Johnson's agent from Octagon Sports in Walnut Creek, Calif. "Ron got drafted in the fourth round for one reason, his speed. I think a three-year deal is perfect for him. Three years can go fast, and I think Ron can flourish with the Ravens.

"As far as escalators, it's very minimal. We're not going to break the bank with this contract. With the Ravens' cap situation, there's not a whole lot of latitude. As a second-day rookie, you're limited with what you can do."

In four seasons at Minnesota, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Johnson set school records with 198 receptions, 3,039 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also holds the Golden Gophers' record by catching at least one pass in all 46 games he played for the Big Ten Conference school.

Last season, Johnson caught 56 passes for 895 yards and nine touchdowns and was named second-team all-league. As a junior, he caught 61 passes for 1,125 yards, an 18.4 average per reception and 11 touchdowns. That season he was a first-team All-Big Ten selection and caught eight passes for 163 yards and a touchdown on Ohio State cornerback Nate Clements, an All-American now playing for the Buffalo Bills.

 "We're pleased to have an agreement with Ron so that he will be here at the start of training camp and push to earn significant playing time for us this year," said Ravens senior vice president of football operations Ozzie Newsome of Johnson, whose father, Ron Sr., was a starting cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With the Ravens, Johnson is expected to compete with sixth-round pick Javin Hunter and Kenyon Hambrick to be the third wide receiver behind starters Travis Taylor and Brandon Stokley.

Because of his size and physical nature, Johnson may be called upon extensively near the goal line.

 "He's extremely productive," said Phil Savage, the Ravens' director of college scouting. "A lot of people in the Big Ten would compare him favorably to Marquise Walker (Michigan), who went in the third round. He's a big receiver who will give us a complementary piece to the other two receivers we have in Brandon Stokley and Travis Taylor."

Ravens Insider Top Stories