Ravens sign Ray Lewis to record extension

Before training camp began, Bennie Anderson called Ray Lewis the heart and soul of the Baltimore Ravens, saying, "What your heart means to your body is what Ray means to this football team." By their actions, through a monumental contract agreed upon early this morning, the Ravens affirmed Anderson's belief in the All-Pro middle linebacker's worth to an or-ganization in definite flux since its Super Bowl title.

The Ravens and Lewis' agent, Roosevelt Barnes, agreed to an extension of his contract for the next seven years for more than $50 million, including an NFL record signing bonus of $19 million.

That bonus for the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year exceeds the signing bonus received by Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss.

Essentially, the deal serves two purposes. Not only does it secure the services of the five-time Pro Bowler in all likelihood for the rest of his career, it allows the Ravens the flexibility to sign defensive tackle Sam Adams. It also gives the club the option of considering other free agents like wide receiver Antonio Freeman, fullback Sam Gash, offensive lineman Ben Coleman and, possibly, a veteran running back to back up starter Jamal Lewis such as Jamal Anderson or Ricky Watters.

"I won," said Lewis, 27, who has compiled 1,087 career tackles, 19.5 sacks, 12 interceptions, 56 pass deflections, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. "I got what I wanted.

"I truly believe that they truly respect what I did, and what I am still able to do for this organization. This is where I started my foundation, and this is where I wanted to end it. Now I can."

 Ravens coach Brian Billick said he would like to finish his career when Lewis does.

At a press conference at the team hotel, Barnes said he hoped to be introducing Lewis one day at the Hall of Fame inductions in Canton, Ohio.

 "I'm happy to have the deal done," Barnes said. "I think it's a good deal for both parties. Hopefully, this will assure Ray will end his career as a Baltimore Raven.

"Ray Lewis is one of the few players in NFL history to carry a team on his back as a defensive player to a Super Bowl. It's like signing a franchise quarterback. He's their centerpiece. One of the cornerstones is in place for the next seven years."

Added Billick: "When Ray goes, I'll go. If that's the way it works out, it will be fine with me."

Barnes declined to identify the specifics regarding incentive clauses or voidable years. An option year is believed to be included in Lewis' deal.

Next up on the Ravens' wish list is re-doing the contract of outside linebacker Peter Boulware, who has one year remaining on his current deal and is also a client of Barnes. Boulware said he wouldn't mind being assigned the franchise tag after the season, seeing as how he's scheduled to make $4.5 million this season.

The franchise tag ensures Boulware would be paid among the top five players at his position, or 20 percent over his current deal, whichever is the higher amount. The AFC leader in sacks last season with 15 said he's confident the Ravens will take care of him, though.

"I think they've got to do one thing at a time," Boulware said. "Hopefully, they'll get it done. It really doesn't matter when as long as it gets done. "I've always believed they would get a deal done. It's just a matter of time. I think I'll have something done shortly."

Boulware said he didn't mind the team taking care of Lewis first. His agents are believed to be seeking a signing bonus between $10 to $12 million for the former Florida State All-American.

Lewis' previous contract would have paid him $4.75 million over the next two years. Last season, the former University of Miami All-American led the league with 196 tackles.

Barnes' comment on the way Lewis handled the back and forth nature of the negotiations with Ravens senior vice president of football operations Ozzie Newsome and capologist Pat Moriarty: "Ray is a great client to have. He's as relentless in this area as he is on the football field. He didn't get antsy at all."

Lewis said the, at times, contentious manner of the negotiations never troubled him. He skipped a voluntary minicamp, but managed to stay focused and let his agent do his job.

"I don't think it every really drained me at all," said the intense 6-foot-1, 245-pounder. "There was never any doubt. I think it was about the number we were dealing with.

"Everything has its own course. Fate has its own course. It's done. You can go back and reminisce, but there's really no need."

Added Newsome: "It's a relief knowing he's going to be a Raven."

 Lewis said the first person he'll take of will be his mother.

"I told her this wasn't my contract. She's set for life," Lewis said. "I've signed one or two deals, but I told my mom the deal that would truly set me and her the way we need to be is this deal right here, the one I was working so hard for. "That's the reason why I get up 6 in the morning and sweat so hard.

"My mama's on the way right now. That's my celebration. I'm a country boy. I used to mow lawns for $10 a day."

Note: First-round pick Ed Reed is still a holdout, but his agent, Jeff Moorad, did call the Ravens with an amended proposal.

Reed is the 24th pick and will likely receive a five-year contract worth close to $6.2 million with a signing bonus between $3.6 million, the Ravens' offer, and $3.7625, the offer of the agent from New-port Beach, Calif.

Reed is frustrated by the pace of the talks, especially the lack of the communication earlier this week.

The Ravens are mystified as to why this deal can't be completed with the 23rd and 25th picks both signed to market-level con-tracts.

Ravens Insider Top Stories