Scott, Lewis hitting free agency

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens have submitted multi-million dollar contract offers to inside linebackers Ray Lewis and Bart Scott after several rounds of negotiations on the eve of the free agent signing period that launched early today. Will it be enough to prevent either defensive standout from signing with another NFL team?

As of late Thursday night, neither player was inclined to accept the Ravens' latest contract proposal and were planning to test free agency after 12:01 a.m.

It's believed that the Ravens have offered Lewis a three-year contract worth a total of $24 million. As much as $17 million of that offer is expected to be guaranteed.

Scott's offer carries an annual average exceeding $7 million with a longer term length than Lewis' offer.

Despite the rich offers from Baltimore, each linebacker is curious about what the market will bear and planning to look around.

"We've been working hard to try to get a deal done with the Ravens and we're still hopeful and optimistic that something can be worked out, but we want to see which teams will be calling and hear what they have to say," said agent Harold Lewis, who represents Scott in tandem with Kevin Omell. "We're interested in taking some visits, but we don't plan on doing anything with anybody without at least calling the Ravens back and speaking with Ozzie Newsome. The Ravens remain Bart's ultimate first choice."

A two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Lewis is expected to potentially draw interest from the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos. Lewis, 33, is a free agent for the first time after being named to 10 Pro Bowls during his 13-year tenure in Baltimore.

"The dialogue will continue," general manager Ozzie Newsome said regarding the organization's stance on Lewis gauging his options. "The agent and I will continue to talk once free agency starts."

Lewis' agent didn't return multiple telephone calls.

Meanwhile, Scott is expected to be pursued by multiple teams. That list of suitors includes the Jets, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Cowboys and Detroit Lions.

The Jets, coached by former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, are expected to make a major rush on Scott as their consensus top free agent target. And Scott has said repeatedly that he's bullish on the Jets.

The second-leading tackler for the Ravens' second-ranked defense last season, Scott, 28, is regarded as a bigger commodity for many teams because he's five years younger than Lewis.

"I think in this market three or four players are going to hit home runs and stand out as premier players, and a bunch of other guys hoping for home runs are going to hit singles and doubles," said Lewis, who also represents departing Ravens free agent center Jason Brown. "I feel I have the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of free agency right now with Bart and Jason. We'll see if my gut is right or not in a few hours."

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