Reed feeling squeezed by slow contract talks

Rookie Ed Reed finds himself squeezed in the middle while his agent and the Baltimore Ravens haggle over his contract. He's troubled by the lack of communication between the two parties, but still hopes to end his holdout within the next 48 hours. "It's crazy, man," Reed said in a telephone interview Monday night from his South Florida home. "It's a two-way street where a lot of stuff goes on behind closed doors that the fans and the media don't get to see or even hear about.

"If one side or both sides ain't communicating, it ain't going to get done. I'm the person that will look bad and be hurt the most. I'm the guy who looks like he wants all the money, which isn't true."

Because of the stalled negotiations, the first-round pick and All-American safety from Miami (Fla.) is thousands of miles away from the Ravens' training camp at McDaniel College in Westminster as his holdout entered its sixth day early this morning.

Ravens coach Brian Billick said he isn't inclined toward veiled threats, but is displeased with the situation.

"He's hurting himself," Billick said of Reed, who intercepted a school-record 21 passes in four years with the Hurricanes. "He's hurting this football team. It's nothing an agent will understand.

"He's hurting this football team. That's either important to him or it's not."

Instead of practicing with his teammates, Reed is working out and studying his playbook on his own. Reed was cautiously optimistic that agent Jeff Moorad will close on a five-year deal worth close to $6.5 million with a total signing bonus in excess of $3 million within the next 48 hours.

Simultaneously, he expressed concern that his absence is creating a negative perception.

"I love playing football, but I've got to get a mindset now and understand that I'm in a business," Reed said. "This one decision I'm about to make is for the next five years of my life.

 "This is why I worked so hard to get to this point. I give 110 percent on the field. I expect the same from Baltimore and my agent."

Team officials said they continue to hold dialogue with Moorad, who said Saturday that the Ravens' lack of flexibility has left no apparent end in sight for a resolution. Moorad said he disagrees with the team on most of the structure of the deal, including the initial signing bonus, incentive clauses and other aspects of the contract.

 Because Reed is the 24th overall selection and the draft picks that surround him have signed their contracts, he's supposed to be slotted into a certain financial range.

 There's little room for flexibility or creative bargaining, trademarks of Moorad's lucrative dealings with Major League Baseball.

"I was thinking the same thing with the couple of picks around me done that I would think they could get it situated," Reed said. "I still have the utmost confidence in Jeff. Me and him talked and I told him, ‘Don't worry about me. You do your job.'"

Reed was adamant after he was drafted that he wouldn't hold out. He didn't even have an agent at the time, usually a positive indicator toward a speedy signing.

Now, the opposite of what he wanted has occurred. Reed said he's not inclined to order Moorad to accept the Ravens' latest proposal.

"It's not just him," Reed said. "It's both sides."

Oakland Raiders rookie outside linebacker Napoleon Harris, the 23rd overall pick, reportedly received a signing bonus of $3 million with base salaries of $470,000 in 2002, $587,000 in 2003, $705,000, $822,500 in 2005, $940,000 in 2006 and $1.057 million in 2007. Voidable deals and buyout options were included in that contract.

Additionally, New Orleans Saints rookie defensive end Charles Grant, the 25th selection of the first round, signed a five-year, $6.25 million contract with a total combined signing bonus and option bonus totaling $3.45 million.

Moorad said his latest proposal fit neatly in the 24th spot.

Reed said the Ravens' signing bonus offers have fluctuated. He said the Ravens offered $1.5 million for an initial bonus with more bonus money coming next year for a total of more than $3 million.

"Oh man, it's confusing to me," Reed said of the intricacies of the contract language. "It's ridiculous. I got a lot thrown at me. It's like learn-ing the playbook."

At times, Reed didn't exactly strike a confident stance about his holdout ending.

"I know I can't get all the money," Reed said. "If it was about the money, I would have come out of school last year. I just have to be patient.

 "I'm not frustrated. I know it's just a matter of time, but it's very hard on me to wait like this."

It's not only hard on Reed, though.

 When asked if he would send a postcard to Reed as he flippantly suggested on Saturday, Billick said, "I wouldn't waste the stamp."

During Reed's extended absence, sixth-round pick Chad Williams has been working with the first unit, drawing favorable reviews from secondary coach Donnie Henderson.

As for Reed, Henderson said it's not his place to comment on the Ravens' business affairs.

 "That's a whole different story," Henderson said. "The only thing I can do is coach the guys I've got here.

"Management is working to get that situation situated."

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