Ravens give first-round tenders

OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens took no undue risks when it came to locking up the services of offensive tackle Jared Gaither, Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain and cornerback Fabian Washington. All three restricted free agents were assigned the first-round tender, a status expected to be shared by wide receiver Mark Clayton.

If another team signed them to an offer sheet, the Ravens would receive a first-round pick as compensation if they opted not to match after a seven-day period.

Gaither was the Ravens' top candidate to receive the high tender of a first-round pick and a third-round pick, but they opted to not go that high.

Although Gaither is a promising young starting left tackle and extremely big at 6-foot-9, 340 pounds, it's considered a long shot that a team would be willing to give up a first-round pick in return for the former University of Maryland player.

He'll be paid $2.3 million along with McClain, who returned to a traditional blocking role last season one year removed from a career-high 902 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

Washington, who's recovering well from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered last season, will receive $2.6 million.

"I'm just glad I'm going to be back," Washington told the Times. "I'm excited. It feels good." The Ravens assigned a second-round tender to punter Sam Koch for the second year in a row, at a cost of $1.7 million.

Koch's agent and the Ravens have both expressed interest in working out a long-term deal, but nothing is in the works at this point.

Strong safety Dawan Landry rebounded well from neck surgery during the previous offseason and had regained his old form by the end of the season. He received the second-round tender.

The Ravens also gave a tender to offensive guard Chris Chester ($1.1 million) and would receive a third-round pick for him if he was signed to an offer sheet and they didn't match due to the upgraded tender provision.

The same rule applies to former Miami Dolphins second-round quarterback John Beck (third-round, $1.1 million).

Veteran kicker Billy Cundiff received a $1.2 million low tender with no attached draft pick compensation.

The Ravens gave the low tender of $1.1 million to reserve linebacker and special-teams contributor Prescott Burgess (sixth round) as well as offensive tackle Tony Moll (fifth round), who was acquired in a trade last year from the Green Bay Packers.

Wide receiver Demetrius Williams, who hasn't produced to the level the team had hoped for when it drafted him in the fourth round, also received the low tender.

All restricted tenders aren't guaranteed and include no signing bonus.

Versatile backup tight end Edgar Jones wasn't given a tender. However, he could still be retained with a veteran minimum deal at roughly half the cost of the low tender.

The Ravens didn't immediately send a tender to backup quarterback Troy Smith, but are expected to do by today's deadline.

NOTES: It's unlikely that the gap between the Ravens and wide receiver Derrick Mason will be bridged in time to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent Friday morning at 12:01 a.m. Mason is seeking a two-year deal with significant upfront money. The Ravens are amenable to doing a deal longer than one year. … In a surprising development, the Denver Broncos only gave controversial star wide receiver Brandon Marshall a first-round tender. That might be a signal that Denver is willing to explore trade scenarios for Marshall. If the Broncos are willing to make a trade for less than a first-round pick, the Ravens could possibly have interest. Marshall's frequent clashes with team management and the coaching staff as well his history of domestic violence problems could make them wary of acquiring him. Marshall has caught 100 passes for three consecutive seasons and is an imposing target at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. … The prospects of landing Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd or Miles Austin are low since all three players were given the high tender of a first-round pick and a third-round pick. … The Ravens sent a qualifying offer to exclusive-rights free agent defensive back Marcus Paschal, according to his agent.


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