On July 4, the agent for first-round draft choice Travis Taylor sent the Ravens a contract proposal. Four days later, Steve Weinberg delivered the fireworks.
"We will not have any more talks with the Baltimore Ravens until we get an offer from them," the Dallas-based agent said yesterday.
Weinberg is upset because the Ravens have not responded to his proposal. Worse yet, he says, with two weeks left until training camp, he still hasn't received an offer from the team. He estimates he has had a "half-dozen" conversations with the Ravens since they made Taylor, a wide receiver from Florida, the 10th pick in the draft.
"Are we going to have to wait for Jonathan Ogden to get signed before they make an offer?" Weinberg said. "The Ravens may not have the money until they get Ogden done, but we could have been talking. They should have been ready to go.
"Travis was drafted in April. How could they not make me an offer in all this time?"
Ravens vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome was unavailable to comment yesterday. David Modell, the team president, and Pat Moriarty, the chief negotiator, did not return calls.
Taylor is in the same predicament as running back Jamal Lewis, the Ravens' first, first-round pick in April.
The Ravens have a little more than $1 million in salary cap space left for this season, and have a rookie allocation of $4.3558 million. To clear salary room for the rookies, they must either renegotiate the contracts of linebacker Ray Lewis or offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden or cut a high-salaried player. Lewis ($6.35 million) and Ogden ($5.321 million) have the team's highest cap numbers for 2000.
Mitch Frankel, the agent for Jamal Lewis, did not return phone calls last week.
Weinberg was in Boca Raton, Fla., yesterday in part to meet with Taylor, who lives in Jacksonville.
"It's very frustrating to meet with Travis and have nothing new to tell him," Weinberg said. "The most frustrating part of negotiations is having to negotiate with myself. ... I will not negotiate with myself."
Weinberg is also concerned over his inability to negotiate long-term agreements for two other clients - exclusive rights players Lional Dalton and Kyle Richardson - with the Ravens.
Dalton, a third-year defensive tackle, and Richardson, a punter, have both been offered a one-year deal for the third-year minimum - $358,000. Weinberg said that represents a pay cut for Richardson, who had incentives in his contract last season and led the NFL with 39 punts inside the 20.
"The guy deserves a raise," Weinberg said. "If they're disappointed with Kyle, let us know. This is totally unacceptable to him. It's an insult to Kyle."
Weinberg compares Dalton's situation with that of offensive tackle Spencer Folau a year ago. Weinberg said Folau was willing to sign a three-year, $3 million deal in 1999 as an exclusive rights player, but the Ravens insisted on a one-year deal.
As a restricted free agent this season, Folau agreed to a two-year, $2.75 million deal with the New England Patriots. The Ravens matched the offer, though, and retained Folau.
"They're overpaying Spencer Folau because they wouldn't sit down and negotiate with him a year ago," Weinberg said. "You would think they'd learn a lesson."
Dalton could be penciled in as a starter this summer if defensive tackle Tony Siragusa stages a holdout in training camp. The team has already lost veteran tackle Larry Webster for at least eight games this season to a violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
"If the club rubs the players' noses in it, when we have the upper hand, we will find another team," Weinberg said. "The Ravens will have the right to match [next season], but they will pay more.
"If they don't want Kyle Richardson or Lional Dalton around in 2001, then deal with us the way they're dealing with us. It's not good business to force guys to play for a one-year contract."