Tony Jones and Herman Arvie, two parts of an offensive line that was a bright spot throughout the Ravens' 4-12 inaugural season, probably will not return next season, and Jonathan Ogden will move from left guard to his natural position at left tackle, according to team sources.
The moves are based partly on economics and health. Ogden, who lived up to expectations as the Ravens' top draft pick with an excellent rookie season, was an All-America left tackle at UCLA but moved inside to play next to Jones, a nine-year left tackle who originally signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent in 1988.
A source said the team probably will try to trade Jones, who could remain with the Ravens only if he accepts a backup role and takes a substantial pay cut for 1997, an unlikely scenario. Under the terms of Jones' contract, which runs through 1998, he would collect $2.5 million this year in salary and roster bonuses. His contract has a salary cap value of $2.9 million in 1997.
Jones could not be reached to comment. His agent, Tom Condon, did not return phone calls yesterday.
Arvie's status has more to do with his health. After suffering a spinal cord contusion against Cincinnati on Dec. 8, Arvie, TC four-year veteran backup who played frequently in the second half of the season, might decide to retire.
Arvie, who was unavailable to comment yesterday, visited the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles two days ago and is scheduled to hear a second opinion at the Cleveland Clinic on Tuesday.
"The doctors basically told [Arvie] to find a new line of work," said Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf. "Herman has a lot of thinking to do."
The Ravens began to change their 1997 roster yesterday when they announced they would not renew linebacker Mike Croel's contract. Croel, who signed a one-year, $275,000 deal just before training camp, was fourth on the team with 80 tackles, and was one of only two defensive players to start every game. He was bothered for much of the season by a knee injury.
"We have eight or nine guys on offense who could start on any team in the National Football League," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel.
The Ravens' injury-riddled defense was not nearly as solid, having surrendered 441 points, third most in the NFL.
"If we decide a guy is not a starter and can't be a backup, we need to let that player go and give him a chance to play somewhere else," added Newsome.
The Ravens also are turning their focus to retaining their most coveted players. Highest on the priority list are center Steve Everitt and wide receiver Michael Jackson.
Everitt, who made $785,000 in his fourth season, was enjoying his best year before tearing a pectoral muscle against Denver on Oct. 20. As a restricted free agent who has been designated as the Ravens' transition player -- meaning he must receive the average salary of the 10 highest-paid offensive linemen in the league -- Everitt is seeking a long-term deal. Jackson, set to earn $2.5 million in the last year of a three-year contract and coming off his best season, is discussing a long-term extension with the Ravens that would save them much-needed salary cap money in 1997.
Newsome said the team remains interested in re-signing safety Stevon Moore and defensive end Anthony Pleasant, both of whom are unrestricted free agents. Pleasant is coming off an ankle injury that forced him to miss a third of the 1996 season.
"I talked to both of their agents this week," Newsome said. "They both want to remain Ravens, and we'll pursue them on that avenue."
The toughest piece of the Ravens' salary cap puzzle revolves around veteran free safety Eric Turner, who will replace injured Denver safety Steve Atwater in next month's Pro Bowl. Turner is set to earn $3 million next year, when his salary cap figure escalates to $3.9 million.
Newsome said he spoke with Turner's agent, Mike Sullivan, this week about restructuring Turner's contract to provide the Ravens with some cap relief. Sullivan did not return phone calls yesterday.
Pub Date: 1/18/97