If the Ravens are going to keep Pro Bowl tackle Jonathan Ogden beyond the 2000 season, they probably will have to make him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.
That was the upshot of two days of meetings this week between Ogden's agent, Marvin Demoff, and Ravens vice president of administration Pat Moriarty.
"Right now, I am looking to be the highest-paid lineman," Ogden said last night from his Las Vegas home. "I don't know what the numbers are exactly, but I am looking to be the highest paid."
The numbers, according to a report on CBS SportsLine yesterday, suggest a extension that averages $7 million a season and includes a signing bonus of at least $12 million.
If that's the going rate for a Pro Bowl left tackle, the Ravens appear committed to paying market price.
"I assume they probably correctly figure Jonathan to be one of the best at his position, now and for some time to come," said team president David Modell. "They probably want to be compensated thusly. We understand that.
"We'll be playing in that arena with them. We're not shying away from that reality."
The Ravens don't have much choice if they want to retain the cornerstone of their 4-year-old franchise. In a unique clause to the seven-year, $15.4 million contract originally negotiated by Modell, Ogden simply can opt to become a free agent after this, his fifth season.
Negotiated into that contract was the stipulation the Ravens could not use the franchise tag on him.
While free agency is an attractive option for Ogden, he said he'd prefer to stay with the Ravens. Enough so that he said he'd probably be willing to accept a little less from them than another team.
"If I didn't really want to stay with Baltimore, then I probably wouldn't be entertaining talks of an extension," Ogden said. "If I didn't like it there, then I'd just play one year out and go somewhere else.
"I love it there, I enjoy playing for Coach [Brian] Billick. I think the team can go far. That's why we're talking about this."
Ogden sat in on Wednesday's opening session between Demoff and Moriarty, but skipped yesterday's meeting. Moriarty said only that the two sides would continue to talk, but no dates have been set.
The timing is important to Ogden, who wants a deal done before training camp starts in late July.
"It's kind of like an aiming date," Ogden said. "We really need to try to get something done by training camp so I can come in and concentrate on football, either way. My ultimate goal is to help this team win now."
By waiting until now to negotiate, the market price on offensive tackles has been set. The two big signings this offseason were Jon Runyan as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles, and Willie Anderson, who re-signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.
They received almost identical deals. Runyan got a six-year, $30.5 million contract with a $6 million signing bonus. Anderson got a six-year extension worth $30.6 million with an $8 million signing bonus spread over two years.
Both Runyan and Anderson are right tackles. Ogden, who'll turn 26 in late July, is regarded as one of the NFL's two best left tackles with Tony Boselli of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Boselli got a four-year extension last season worth $26 million. His deal averages $6.5 million per year, which is the number Ogden wants to top.
Extending Ogden's contract also would give the Ravens salary-cap room to sign first-round picks Jamal Lewis and Travis Taylor.
The Ravens are intent on keeping Ogden.
"Jon is a very good player," David Modell said. "Left tackles of his stature in this league are really vital cogs. And B, Jon is the first natural Baltimore Raven ... chosen in the draft.
"In this day and age of individuals not playing for the same team throughout their career, we'd very much like to buck that trend with Jon and have him with us for his entire career. We'll set about to make that happen."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun