Reed relieved to be in Ravens camp

Even the background noise of his flight announcement was music to Ed Reed's ears. The monotone voice telling him that his flight to Baltimore would be boarding in another hour at Miami International Airport was just another signal that the holdout was over for the Baltimore Ravens' first-round pick. The rookie safety missed eight days of practice.

After receiving a congratulatory telephone call from his agent, Jeff Moorad, late Friday night, Reed agreed in principle to a five-year contract worth a total of $6.225 million, including a signing bonus of $3.625 million.

The Ravens capitulated only slightly to Moorad's proposal of a $3.765 bonus for the 24th overall pick by raising their initial offer of $3.6 million by a mere $25,000.

 With incentives that could be reached in their entirety during his rookie season that wouldn't count against this year's salary cap, the first-round pick and All-American from Miami (Fla.) could earn an additional $500,000.

"I want people to know that I'm not all about money and forget about Ed Reed, the holdout, and talk about Ed Reed, the football player," Reed said in a telephone interview from South Florida. "I want to earn people's trust and respect and show them what kind of person I really am. Football is a business, but it's also what I love.

 "There are no hard feelings on my part that it took so long. I'm sure the team feels the same way about it. Let's move on and get to work so we can win some football games."

Reed was the last of the Ravens' 10 draft picks to agree to terms and one of the final picks of the first round to agree to terms.

Now that Reed is under contract, there's the matter of acclimating himself to training camp and getting ready for the Ravens' preseason opener on Aug. 9 against the Detroit Lions.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said Reed's status as a starting safety remains basically unchanged. Barring any unforeseen developments, Reed will begin work with the first defensive unit at some point in Monday's 8:45 a.m. practice session.

"He missed a lot this week, and he's going to have a lot of work catching up," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It's disappointing that he missed a full week."

 Before Reed built a reputation as the heart and soul of the national champion Hurricanes, he grew up in humble surroundings in St. Rose, La.

As the son of a man who still punches the clock as a welder everyday, Reed excelled in three sports as a prep athlete.

Reed played football for Destrehan High School, going both ways as a defensive ace as well as a running back and quarterback. He threw the javelin and ran sprints. He averaged 20 points as a basketball guard.

"I never had much money growing up and I knew this would be the only deal I would sign for the next five years of my life," Reed said. "I wanted to make sure it was done right.

"I'm sorry it took so long, but I felt like I had to do the right thing for myself and my family. I'm happy this whole thing is over and behind me."

The Ravens slotted Reed accurately for what he should receive at his draft position. Reed received less than Oakland Raiders rookie outside linebacker Napoleon Harris (23rd pick, seven years, $7.846 million) and more than New Orleans Saints rookie defensive end Charles Grant (25th pick, five years, $6.25 million).

"Sometimes people dig into their respective positions," Moorad said. "I'm thankful that in the end the Ravens made the necessary adjustments."

The Ravens are fairly accustomed to holdouts. Outside linebacker Peter Boulware missed three preseason games in 1997, joining cornerback Duane Starks and receiver Travis Taylor as other recent players who haggled with the club before agreeing to terms.

Reed intercepted a school-record 21 passes during four seasons at Miami to break the mark of former Detroit Lions standout Bennie Blades. Reed set another mark with 54 pass deflections, too. He was also a force in run support with 289 tackles, a school-record for a defensive back.

 The waiting game took its toll on Reed. He said he worked out religiously, but wasn't sure how hard he should push himself, at times, knowing that a contract offer was one telephone call away.

"I went swimming [Friday] and I lifted weights, too," Reed said. "I didn't want to tire myself out too much in case the deal got done. Now, I don't have to worry about that.

"I'm not a holdout anymore. I'm officially a Baltimore Raven."


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