By Mike Preston
The Baltimore Sun
July 12, 1996
The Ravens have reached agreement in principle on a contract with No. 1 draft pick Jonathan Ogden, a source close to the team confirmed last night.
Details of the contract were not available, but the deal is believed to be for six or seven years. Ogden, the left offensive tackle from UCLA, was the fourth player chosen in the NFL draft.
According to the source, only minor details of the contract need to be completed before it is signed by Ogden, who will report Monday with the other rookies for camp at Western Maryland College.
Ravens executive vice president David Modell would not confirm that the two parties had agreed in principle. He spent three days in Los Angeles negotiating with Ogden's agent, Marvin Demoff, before flying back to Baltimore late Wednesday night.
Demoff was unavailable for comment.
"We do not have the deal complete," Modell said. "We feel confident it will get done in time for Jonathan to be here for training camp."
Having Ogden in camp is important to the Ravens because he will be shifted to left guard. If the transition works, Baltimore could have one of the NFL's biggest and best offensive lines.
Ogden, 6 feet 8 and 318 pounds, was rated the best offensive lineman in the draft, and would be the first of the seven rookies drafted to sign with the Ravens.
The club continues to negotiate with Miami linebacker Ray Lewis, its other first-round pick, the 26th overall selection.
Drew Rosenhaus, Lewis' agent, said yesterday morning that the Ravens were close to signing his client, but seemed to back off that statement later in the evening.
According to a league source, the Ravens had offered Lewis a four-year deal that includes an average salary of $924,000 and a $1.2 million signing bonus.
The Ravens named Lewis the starting middle linebacker after cutting veteran Pepper Johnson on Tuesday. Rosenhaus hinted that he might use Lewis' role as leverage.
"Getting Ogden into camp is good, but he just makes a strong line stronger," said Rosenhaus. "Ray is a key guy on the weakest part of the team. We're not interested in holding out, but we don't feel we have to take seconds because we're in the later half of the first round."
The Ravens may have problems signing three other draft picks on the opposite end of the spectrum. According to a league source, the team has offered rookie-minimum contracts of $131,000 for each of the next three seasons to Maryland wide receiver Jermaine Lewis (fifth round), Florida inside linebacker Dexter Daniels (sixth round) and Norfolk State wide receiver James Roe (sixth round).
The minimum contracts are standard for late-round picks, but the players' agents are not happy with the signing-bonus offers. Lewis is being offered $30,000, Daniels $18,000 and Roe $15,000.
"This is well below the market value of what others are getting in similar slots. Some are doubling what we're getting," said David Levine, the agent for Daniels.
Joseph Sroba, Roe's agent, said: "We would like a little more protection up front. The contract is stocked with workout and roster bonuses, and we have a lot of confidence in James' ability and work ethic. At this point, we're having a little problem with the structure."
The low offers may be the result of players receiving bonuses, then quitting in the middle of training camp. Owner Art Modell said this happened last season with rookie wide receiver Mike Miller, who lasted five days and never returned his $35,000 signing bonus.
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