By Ken Murray
The Baltimore Sun
July 8, 2000
While the NFL future of Jonathan Ogden is played out over telephone conversations and faxes this summer, the Ravens' Pro Bowl left tackle maintains a quiet vigil in his adopted home of Las Vegas.
Reaching a long-term contract extension for Ogden is a high organizational priority with little more than two weeks left until the start of training camp. It also looms as the key to getting first-round draft picks Jamal Lewis and Travis Taylor in camp on time.
As significant as that is, Ogden doesn't obsess.
"I can't allow myself to worry about it," he said yesterday. "In the worst-case scenario, we don't get a deal done, and I play this year for whatever my contract is and become a free agent.
"I look at it like that. A lot of people are in worse positions."
The worst-case scenario actually belongs to the Ravens. If they don't sign Ogden to a new contract before the start of the regular season, they stand to lose him to free agency next February.
Thanks to a unique clause in the seven-year, $15.4 million contract he signed in 1996, Ogden, entering his fifth season, can void the final two years. He is due to make just over $4 million this year.
Although there have been reports Ogden will cut off negotiations if he doesn't have a deal by training camp, he has, in fact, set a softer deadline.
"It depends on how close we are at camp time," he said. "I'm not one who's big on deadlines. The only date I'd give for sure is the start of the season. I wouldn't [negotiate] then."
In the wake of a six-year, $30.5 million contract given to Philadelphia Eagles' tackle Jon Runyan, it's expected that Ogden, 25, will become the league's highest-paid lineman.
Ozzie Newsome, vice president of player personnel, said he's optimistic the Ravens can get Ogden, Lewis, and Taylor signed by the start of training camp. The reporting date is July 23.
"We're making progress," Newsome said. "We've had several conversations with Mitch Frankel [Lewis' agent], Marvin Demoff [Ogden's agent], and Steve Weinberg [Taylor's agent]. We've had constant conversations."
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