Ogden restructures contract, plans unclear

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens veteran offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden has restructured his contract, a financial maneuver that creates $5 million in immediate salary-cap relief and raises questions about his future plans.

While Ogden's cooperation along with tight end Todd Heap's $1.7 million salary-cap reduction last week allowed the Ravens to afford the $8.065 million franchise tag for outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, it's unclear whether the move is a precursor to the All-Pro blocker's eventual retirement.

Ogden has said he's still leaning toward retiring, and it's not believed anything has transpired to change that stance. The first draft pick in franchise history has repeatedly complained that a lingering turf toe injury hasn't improved. The ailment affected him all last season and prompted him to pull out of the Pro Bowl.

Until he restructured his contract, Ogden was scheduled to have an $11.5 salary-cap figure in 2008 with a $7.5 base salary. Now that he has agreed to reduce his base salary to $2.5 million, the Ravens have lowered his cap impact to $6.5 million for the 2008 fiscal year.

Ogden is under contract for three more seasons with scheduled base salaries of $8 million apiece in 2009 and 2010, according to NFL Players Association figures.

Ogden's agent, Marvin Demoff, didn't return telephone calls.

It's considered unlikely that Ogden received the reduced salary in the form of an immediate signing bonus the way Heap did last week when he lowered his base salary from $3 million to $730,000. It's more likely that the Ravens would tie the $5 million to a roster bonus timed to Ogden's attendance and participation at training camp or the beginning of next season.

Under that scenario, this move technically amounts to a pay cut even though Ogden could eventually earn the money back if he opts not to retire after a dozen seasons and 10 Pro Bowl selections.

If Ogden officially retires after June 1, the Ravens would receive another $2.5 million in cap room. That transaction would also carry the penalty of $5.3 million in so-called dead money in 2009.

Last year, Ogden agreed to lower his base salary to $820,000 to help the Ravens' cap situation.

Regardless of what Ogden decides to do, the Ravens now have enough money to carry Suggs' salary as well as retain restricted free agent guard Jason Brown, likely at a $1.4 million cost, and two other restricted free agents in fullback Justin Green and long snapper Matt Katula.

The Ravens have until Feb. 29 to fax tender offers for their restricted free agents to prevent them from becoming unrestricted free agents, and general manager Ozzie Newsome indicated this week in a telephone interview that he intends to do so. Newsome also said the team has the ability to participate in free agency on a limited basis.

Keeping Suggs, though, will likely represent the Ravens' biggest offseason acquisition.

NOTE: Newsome weighed in on the Ravens' quarterback situation at the NFL scouting combine, telling reporters: "If you had to say right now, it would be Steve McNair."

Newsome did point out that it's only February. Both Newsome and Ravens coach John Harbaugh have said that McNair is progressing well from a December surgery on his non-throwing shoulder.

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

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