Wimbley signing may spur Ngata, Ravens deal

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens gained a guidepost for their negotiations with first-round draft pick Haloti Ngata after the Cleveland Browns' agreed to terms Saturday with rookie linebacker Kamerion Wimbley.

Drafted 13th overall and one spot behind Ngata in April, Wimbley agreed to a six-year contract valued at $23.7 million that includes $9.3 million in guaranteed money and a voidable year after his fifth season as first reported by scout.com.

With Wimbley's deal now complete, the Ravens and Ngata's agents may have an easier time fitting his contract into the NFL's slotting principle for rookie deals.

The Ravens had faced a potentially difficult challenge in determining how much to pay Ngata -- a 350-pound defensive tackle from Oregon -- prior to Wimbley's deal creating a benchmark. That's because the two players drafted above Ngata -- Matt Leinart (Arizona Cardinals) and Jay Cutler (Denver Broncos) -- are both quarterbacks who are traditionally paid more money than any other position.

Drafted 14th overall, Philadelphia Eagles rookie defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley has yet to agree to terms in an apparent squabble over contract length and structure.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, the Ravens can spread out the salary-cap impact of Ngata's signing bonus for several years. The team has tended to do split-tier bonuses for the majority of its high-dollar contracts in recent years.

The Ravens haven't had a first-round pick signed before training camp since tight end Todd Heap agreed to terms days before camp in 2001.

Players report to training camp on Thursday in Westminster, and Baltimore has only two remaining unsigned rookies: Ngata and fourth round wide receiver Demetrius Williams.

Aaron Wilson writes for Ravens Insider and the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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