Boller signed to contract extension

OWINGS MILLS -- Kyle Boller decided to remain the Baltimore Ravens' backup quarterback at least through next season, agreeing Thursday night to a one-year contract extension. Boller was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March and is playing this season under a $1.79 million base salary. The terms of the 2003 first-round pick's deal weren't disclosed, but reportedly exceeds $3 million.

This move assures the Ravens of being settled at quarterback with Steve McNair as their starter for next year with Boller behind him as an insurance policy.

"This is good news for us," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We have said all along how important Kyle is to this team, and this secures him for at least another season for us."

By agreeing to terms with the Ravens, Boller, 26, effectively closed the door on the defending AFC North champions' brief dialogue with former Jacksonville Jaguars starter Byron Leftwich, who might have been signed as soon as next week if Boller had passed on the Ravens' offer. It also prevents Boller from testing his market value and potentially reclaiming a starting job.

Now, the Ravens won't have to ponder whether to cut third-string rookie Troy Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner, which was a potential scenario if they had signed Leftwich.

Contractually, Baltimore is set with McNair, 34, until 2010 under a five-year contract with a maximum value of $32 million. That deal includes base salaries of $3 million this season and $4 million next season with $6 million apiece in 2009 and 2010.

Boller had a stormy three-year starting tenure, posting an 18-16 record with 36 career touchdowns and 34 interceptions while fumbling 31 times and being sacked 78 times. Despite his strong arm, athleticism and physical toughness, Boller was a frequent target for critics as a starter because of his erratic decision-making and accuracy.

However, Boller emerged as a viable backup last season with the third-highest quarterback rating (104.) among any reserve passer in the league. Last season, he completed 33 of 55 passes for 464 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.

"I am ecstatic," Boller said. " Baltimore is the place I really want to be. The Ravens have the best organization in the NFL, and I feel very fortunate that I'm going to continue to be a part of it.

"I have a great deal of respect for Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome and coach Billick. I'm thankful for the confidence they've shown in me and, hopefully, I can play here for a long time."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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