Ravens lose Thomas, Pashos, Mughelli

OWINGS MILLS -- The anticipated exodus from the Baltimore Ravens began almost immediately as offensive tackle Tony Pashos and fullback Ovie Mughelli struck gold on the first day of free agency, but their lucrative deals are likely to pale in comparison to the big money Adalius Thomas is about to collect from the New England Patriots.

The All-Pro outside linebacker is expected to finish negotiating a multi-million dollar deal with the New England Patriots by today.
Thomas forged a rapport with Patriots coach Bill Belichick when he coached the AFC squad at this year's Pro Bowl.
Thomas was also being pursued by the San Francisco 49ers, who entered the veteran signing period with the most money to spend with $37.6 million under the league limit of $109 million. The 49ers, though, spent $22 million in guaranteed money as part of an $80 million package to cornerback Nate Clements for the richest defensive player contract in NFL history, taking them out of the running for Thomas.
It's believed that Thomas' guaranteed money could exceed $17 million with annual salaries averaging between $6 million and $7 million. The Ravens declined to expend a $7.2 million franchise tag to retain Thomas.
Meanwhile, Pashos, 26, signed a six-year, $24 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday, days after his agent predicted that the Ravens would be unable to keep their right tackle due to their tight salary-cap situation.
Baltimore is about $11.3 million under the salary cap, and Pashos is believed to have received at least $10 million in guaranteed money as the former fifth-round draft pick was one of the first free agents to agree to terms.
"We think he is an ascending player," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio told Jacksonville reporters. "We think he's stepping into the prime of his pro career. His size allows him to be firm in the pocket. He's not going to be bull-rushed back to the quarterback."
Baltimore could install backup left tackle Adam Terry as their new right tackle if All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden decides not to retire. Mughelli, 26, signed the richest fullback contract in NFL history, inking a six-year, $18 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons that included a $5 million signing bonus.
"I'm so excited to be a part of the Atlanta Falcons," Mughelli said in a statement. "I think I will be a good fit for the new offense coach Petrino is installing."
The 6-foot-1, 255-pound former fourth-round draft pick emerged as a key player last season once coach Brian Billick took over play-calling duties. He blocked adeptly for Jamal Lewis, demonstrating his versatility by catching 21 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
"Ovie is one of the top blocking fullbacks in the National Football League," Petrino told Atlanta reporters. "Adding a player of his caliber to our team immediately makes us better."
The Ravens' primary focus is centered on negotiations with Lewis' agent, Mitch Frankel. They are expected to exchange contract proposals throughout the weekend. No deal is imminent for the franchise's all-time leading rusher, but Baltimore seems determined to bring back the former NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
Lewis, 27, was cut Wednesday rather than pay him a $5 million roster bonus due Saturday, creating $8.3 million in salary-cap space.
Baltimore currently needs starters at running back, fullback, outside linebacker and right tackle and doesn't likely have the salary-cap room to address all of those job openings in free agency.
If they are unable to sign Lewis, running back Corey Dillon could possibly enter the picture. Dillon's agent said that he has yet to speak with Baltimore, but expects to touch base with them soon. The Patriots cut Dillon, 32, at his request Friday, saving more than $2 million.
The Ravens are reportedly pondering a trade for Buffalo Bills runner Willis McGahee, but it's unlikely they would want to assume his current contract.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter is interested in the Ravens along with the Patriots, Cleveland Browns, 49ers, Jets and Dallas Cowboys, and the feeling is apparently mutual with Baltimore.
Nothing is likely to happen quickly with Porter who's inclined to wait until early next week to schedule visits. Porter, 29, has 60 sacks and three Pro Bowl selections.
The controversial pass rusher has a history of nasty altercations with the Ravens, including a near-scuffle with middle linebacker Ray Lewis outside the team bus and an infamous shove of injured tight end Todd Heap.
Porter emphasized in a conference call with Baltimore reporters last season that he has repaired relationships with Lewis and Heap. Then, he got into a brief skirmish with Jamal Lewis in a pileup during Baltimore's December win at Heinz Field.
Free agent Jarret Johnson is the top in-house candidate to replace Thomas, but the underrated backup could draw solid interest in free agency from teams who are unable to sign Thomas, Porter or Houston Texans linebacker Antwan Peek. In a bull market for free agents, Johnson could still cash in elsewhere like Pashos and Mughelli.
Also, reserve nose guard Aubrayo Franklin is expected to sign with the 49ers.
NOTE: Denver Broncos free agent offensive guard Cooper Carlisle is interested again in the Ravens, but no visit is currently planned.
Carlisle is scheduled to visit the Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins.
"We would be interested in talking to the Ravens," said Frank Murtha, Carlisle's agent. "I would think Cooper would be a good fit."
Baltimore reached a verbal agreement in principle with Carlisle prior to the 2005 season, but he reneged on the deal and signed with the Broncos again as Baltimore wound up with Keydrick Vincent. Carlisle could be attractive to the Ravens since he has experience at tackle.
"There are no hard feelings," Murtha said. "Since then, Ozzie Newsome gave me a little friendly poke and said, 'Now, Frank, if we ever want to sign Cooper again you're not going to back out of the deal are you?' I said, 'Ozzie, no problem at all.' It's in the past."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

Ravens Insider Top Stories