Center Steve Everitt took his first step toward possibly leaving the Ravens yesterday, when he visited the Philadelphia Eagles on his initial free-agent stop.
The Eagles reportedly opened the bidding on Everitt by offering him a six-year, $11.5 million contract and a $600,000 signing bonus, with the first two years guaranteed. An Eagles official said the club would pay Everitt no more than $2.5 million a year.
The Ravens initially offered Everitt a five-year, $9 million deal, plus a $2.5 million signing bonus. Under terms of that proposal, Everitt would collect 60 percent of his money in the first two years of the contract.
The New York Jets also are rumored to be interested in Everitt, who expressed doubts yesterday about re-signing with the Ravens.
"I don't think I'm in their long-term plans," Everitt told the Philadelphia Inquirer, "They've had two years to re-do my contract. This is the first time I've had any say in the matter. I've been answering to them for the past four years. Never say never, but it would take a pretty sweet deal for me to go back.
"I'm in no rush," added Everitt, who said he likes the idea of playing in the NFC and bolstering the Eagles' running game, led by star back Ricky Watters. "I just kind of wanted to feel [the Eagles] out and meet everybody. There is a window of opportunity for a couple of weeks."
Everitt became an unrestricted free agent last week, when the Ravens elected to remove his transition player tag. As a transition player, Everitt would have been a restricted free agent, and the Ravens could have retained him by matching any other team's offer. By eliminating Everitt's transition status, the Ravens avoided having to tender him a one-year qualifying offer of $2.8 million -- the average salary of the NFL's 10 highest-paid offensive linemen.
Everitt, a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 1993, made $785,000 in his fourth season last year, when he missed eight of the last nine games with a torn pectoral muscle. He is considered the best of the free-agent centers. The average salary of the NFL's 10 highest-paid centers is $1.8 million.
Everitt's agent, John Macik, could not be reached to comment.
The Ravens also started talks with free-agent guard Jeff Blackshear yesterday. Blackshear began the season as a backup, but started 12 of the last 14 games at right guard.
Ted Marchibroda Jr., Blackshear's agent, said he and the Ravens discussed a "three- or four-year deal" without getting into specific dollar amounts. Marchibroda said he has been contacted by "a group of teams" about Blackshear, and that the Cincinnati Bengals have expressed the most interest in luring him from the Ravens.
Pub Date: 2/18/97