Ravens and Everitt are $6 million apart Veteran center seeking $15 million over 5 years

The Ravens and starting center Steve Everitt have reopened negotiations, with the team offering Everitt a five-year contract worth nearly $9 million, almost $6 million short of the deal Everitt wants, according to sources from both sides in the negotiations.

Also, the Ravens have an interest in possibly signing veteran cornerback J. B. Brown, a former University of Maryland standout who was released by the Miami Dolphins on Monday. A source close to the team also confirmed the Ravens have an interest in outside linebacker Chad Brown, an unrestricted free agent, who led the Pittsburgh Steelers in sacks last season with 13.


Everitt's agent, John Macik, confirmed that he had spoken with Ravens vice president David Modell yesterday afternoon and that an initial offer had been made.

But Macik would not go into specific details.


"He made a reference to having some area concepts and some parameters, and that these were just some of the leaves before we get to the tree," said Macik. "I'll look it over and get back with him tomorrow."

Sources close to the team said the Ravens offered Everitt a five-year deal that included a signing bonus of nearly $2.5 million and yearly salaries worth almost $1.8 million, the average of top centers in the league.

Only two starting centers received signing bonuses greater than $2.5 million, the Houston Oilers' Mark Stepnoski and the Kansas City Chiefs' Tim Grunhard. Everitt also would collect about about 60 percent of the contract's salary in the first two years.

"John [Macik] and I, after playing phone tag for days, got to chat," said Modell. "We made him an offer. It may not be as specific as John would like, but there is room, enough for us to make progress, if there is progress to be made."

But according to a source close to Everitt, the fourth-year center wants a five-year contract worth $15 million. The figures are consistent with contracts proposed by Macik for Everitt in the past, which asked for as much as a $3.1 million signing bonus for a six-year contract and an average salary of $2.4 million to $2.6 million a season.

The five-year, $15 million deal Everitt seeks would put him in the salary structure usually reserved for left tackles, generally the highest paid of offensive linemen.

Everitt, a first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 1993 and the Ravens' designated transition player, was having his best season in 1996 until a chest injury forced him to miss eight of the team's last nine games. If the Ravens fail to re-sign him by Feb. 14, Everitt can listen to offers from any NFL team, and the Ravens must match any offer to retain his services.

If the Ravens don't meet the deadline, they must automatically tender Everitt a one-year offer of $2.8 million -- which is the average salary of the league's 10 highest-paid offensive linemen -- unless they withdraw his transition tag.


If the Ravens withdraw that designation, Everitt would became an unrestricted free agent and would be free to sign with any team. Everitt was paid $785,000 last season.

The agent for J. B. Brown, Drew Rosenhaus, spoke with Ravens vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome on Monday night after Brown was waived. Rosenhaus said he was hoping to have an agreement with Newsome within the next three days.

Newsome didn't feel as strongly about any deal.

"All I will say is that we're presently evaluating J. B. Brown," said Newsome.

Brown, 30, recently completed his eighth season with the Dolphins. If signed, he might be able to fill a void at right cornerback for the Ravens, who tried three starters at the position last season.

The 6-foot, 191-pound cornerback started six of eight seasons with the Dolphins, but became a casualty in coach Jimmy Johnson's youth movement last season. Brown started just one game, but played in 13, mostly as nickel back or reserve, making 17 tackles, intercepting one pass and knocking down three.


"J. B. went to DeMatha High, played at the University of Maryland and presently lives in the state of Maryland," said Rosenhaus. "It's a great scenario, and we hope to work something out soon."

Chad Brown, 6-2, 240 pounds, stepped up for the Steelers when starter Greg Lloyd was lost for the season to injury. Brown was moved to the outside linebacker position, another glaring weakness for the Ravens last season.

Chad Brown finished with 51 solo tackles and intercepted two passes. His agent, Peter Schaffer, could not be reached for comment yesterday. The linebacker was coached by Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis two years ago when both were with the Steelers.

"It would be remiss of me to say that Chad Brown couldn't help our football team, and that's all I will say," said Newsome.

Pub Date: 2/05/97