Ravens eye post-4th signing fireworks Returning staff targets 6 picks; Starks is No. 1


Now that the Fourth of July holiday is over, the Ravens will direct their full effort toward signing the remaining six of seven draft selections for training camp that is only 13 days away.

Several members of the Ravens' front office staff were back to work yesterday after vacations, including owner Art Modell, son and vice president David Modell and Pat Moriarty, the team's chief financial officer who will handle the bulk of the negotiations. Ozzie Newsome, another team vice president, will begin his negotiations with three later-round picks tomorrow.

Second-round draft pick Patrick Johnson, a receiver out of Oregon, already has signed and has been working out at the team's Owings Mills complex with quarterback Eric Zeier. Talks with cornerback Duane Starks, the team's No. 1 pick from the University of Miami, will intensify this week.

"Actually, I'm just beginning to go through the information," Moriarty said yesterday morning. "Previously, we had talked to Drew [Rosenhaus, Starks' agent] about possible concepts, but now that there have been more signings, there is more meat, you might say, out there to deal with. We'll be in contact sometime this week."

Moriarty was referring to recent deals signed by players who were drafted near Starks at No. 10 overall, including No. 9 Fred Taylor, a running back, offensive tackle Tra Thomas at No. 11 and No. 12 pick Keith Brooking, a linebacker.

Taylor got a six-year, $10.704 million contract with a $5 million signing bonus from Jacksonville. Philadelphia reportedly signed Thomas to a five-year deal worth $8.2 million with a signing bonus of $3.4 million and Brooking received a six-year package from Atlanta worth $9.1 million with a $3.8 million bonus.

Rosenhaus cautions that his client won't simply be "slotted" into a salary. Starks is expected to seriously challenge third-year player DeRon Jenkins for the starting position even though Jenkins is listed at No. 1 going into training camp.

"We've talked before, but the bulk of the negotiations will occur within the next couple of weeks and we've got a lot of work to get done," said Rosenhaus. "Obviously, you look at the first couple of deals done in front of you and a couple of them done behind you, but ultimately each player has to carry his own deal. I'm not going to play follow the leader and simply do a deal according to those around me. I want to be fair to my client and get what he is worth on an individual basis."

Ideally, the Ravens would like to sign Starks and then the rest of draftees. Newsome will negotiate with linebacker Ron Rogers (sixth round-A), offensive tackle Sammy Williams (sixth-B) and tight end Cam Quayle (seventh) while Moriarty has Starks, safety Ryan Sutter (fifth-B) and defensive tackle Chase Martin (fifth-A).

"We've talked with the team one time," said Brian Kelley, Rogers' agent. "We're figuring that once the No. 1 guy gets out of the way, then it's time to deal with us."

NOTE: The Ravens will not participate in the league's supplemental draft Thursday, apparently not overwhelmed with the candidates on the list.

Pub Date: 7/07/98

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