There is no such penalty for a contract reached after that date, and the Ravens had already prevented McAlister from becoming an unrestricted free agent with a one-year tender offer worth $5.962 million. That's the average salary paid to the top five players at McAlister's position.
Plus, the Ravens are assured of the compensation of two first-round picks if McAlister was to sign an offer sheet with another club and Baltimore didn't match the contract.
Meanwhile, the Ravens denied published reports that they have signed or reached an agreement in principle with free agent offensive lineman Orlando Brown. The Ravens said that discussions hit a snag over some language that Brown's representatives wanted to include.
Despite this development, Baltimore said it will continue to talk with Brown's representatives at IMG in hopes of finalizing a deal with the 6-foot-7, 350-pound right tackle.
Telephone messages seeking comment with IMG weren't returned. Brown, 32, hasn't played football since a penalty flag damaged an eye on Dec. 19, 1999 when playing for the expansion Cleveland Browns. He played for Baltimore from 1996 to 1998.
As for the talks with McAlister's agent, Mitch Frankel, they weren't exactly bolstered by the lucrative deals struck around the league.
A year ago, Duane Starks departed the Ravens for a four-year, $21.4 million pact with a $5 million signing bonus.
Frankel didn't return telephone calls on Friday. In a prior interview, Frankel didn't disclose the terms of the Ravens' proposal, but said it wasn't the financial framework he was seeking.
"We want Chris to be a Raven for a long time," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement when McAlister was franchised. "By putting the franchise tag on him, we are clearly stating our intentions. We will continue to negotiate with his agent to get a deal done."
McAlister is valued heavily for his ideal size and speed at 6-foot-1, 206 pounds, but drew criticism for his propensity toward personal fouls last season. The 10th overall selection in the 1999 NFL Draft recorded 67 tackles and 24 pass deflections with one interception.
"I'll be back," McAlister said at season's end. "I ain't leaving. That's the bottom line. I don't want to go anywhere else. It's not something I'm really concerned about. I'm happy in Baltimore."
NOTE: Former Ravens defensive tackle Sam Adams and return specialist Jermaine Lewis haven't announced their decisions yet. Adams' agent, Angelo Wright, said it will likely come down to a decision between the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore. Lewis said he's trying to decide between Baltimore, Jacksonville, Miami, Washington and Cincinnati.
"It's a tough decision," Lewis said. "I have a lot to think about, but, like I said before, the Ravens feel like home."