Notes: Ravens intent on re-signing R. Lewis

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Although Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis' financial demands have been quietly denied for years, that organizational stance is now tilting toward eventually granting him a contract extension.

As Lewis approaches the final year of his contract, the Ravens have held conversations with him about a potential new deal and are determined to pay more than other teams if he were to become an unrestricted free agent.

No deal is believed to be imminent, but the idea of paying Lewis is strongly endorsed by team owner Steve Bisciotti, who's close to the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and stated months ago that he believes Lewis has four or five good years left.

Of course, any decision would hinge on contract talks between general manager Ozzie Newsome and Lewis' agents.

Lewis signed a seven-year contract worth nearly $50 million, including $19 million in guaranteed money in 2002 when he had two years remaining on his deal. He's due a $6.5 million base salary this season and holds a $9.428 million salary-cap figure.

Meanwhile, Lewis hasn't been participating in the Ravens' voluntary offseason program.

"For a guy in his situation, he's working the contract stuff out with Ozzie," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday during an AFC coaches breakfast at the annual NFL owners' meetings. "That's going to play itself out. It's between him and Ozzie right now. I would love for him to be in there. He's got to work some things out."

Lewis' 33rd birthday is May 15.

While he still performs at a high level, tying for 12th in the NFL with a team-high 120 tackles last season, he isn't nearly as durable or as dominant as he used to be. It has been four seasons since Lewis went an entire year without missing a game.

"I think he's got good years left in him, there's no question," Harbaugh said. "His roles may change as far as what downs he's on the field, but that's natural. He can still play."

Harbaugh said that he has yet to meet with Lewis in person, but has spoken to him on the telephone a few times.

"He's great, he's excited, he's excitable," Harbaugh said. "He and I, we get each other fired up. I start talking, he starts talking and the next thing we're screaming."

RADIO RULE PASSES: A proposal to allow a coach to communicate with a designated defensive player via a radio transmitter inside the helmet was passed, an obvious reaction to the New England Patriots' Spygate episode where defensive signals were illegally videotaped.

The Ravens voted in favor of the measure, which had a 25-7 balloting. The Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Washington Redskins voted against it.

"It kind of gives a degree of equity to the defense,'' Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "I think that there's still going to be an opportunity where you have to signal and be prepared. But I do think it will enable some communication and even enhance some young players earlier.''

Teams are allowed to designate two players who can wear the radio helmet, but can't be on the field at the same time.

The rule will be implemented the same as the coach-to-quarterback communication system and cut off electronically 15 seconds prior to the snap with the signal scrambled for encryption.

LANDRY PAYDAY: For the second consecutive year, Ravens safety Dawan Landry benefited lucratively from a performance-based pay system that awards lower-salaried players for playing time.

One year after finishing first overall with a $366,017 check, Landry ranked third with a $284,568 supplement to the $360,000 base salary he was paid last season.

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Willie Colon ranked first with $309,534. The money doesn't count against the salary cap.

HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW: The Kansas City Chiefs' bid to prohibit players from having their hair obscure their name plate was tabled until next month's meetings in Atlanta because the league wants to do more research.

QUICK HITS: A proposal to allow field goals to be reviewed by instant replay will be voted on today on the heels of the Ravens' controversial overtime loss to the Cleveland Browns last season where Phil Dawson's 51-yard field goal ricocheted off the upright and hit the crossbar support before bouncing back onto the field. ...

Vice president of officiating Mike Pereira said that restoring mutual respect between players and officials will be a point of emphasis. During a loss to New England, several Ravens angrily confronted head linesman Phil McKinnely, who was reprimanded for calling Samari Rolle "boy." Rolle, Chris McAlister and Derrick Mason were fined for verbally abusing game officials, and Bart Scott was fined $25,000 for tossing an official's flag into the stands. Pereira showed a video of the incident during a rules presentation. "Everybody would agree that both sides are at fault and we have to make a concerted effort to respect each other and work with each other and not get into these situations where it gets to be demeaning," Pereira said. "I agree both sides are at fault. We'll spend more time in training camps and before games talking to players, get involved before it gets out of hand."

...

The force-out, face mask and coin toss rules will be voted on today.

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


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