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Wait game one Ravens can afford to still play

With the first practice of training camp two weeks away, the Ravens remain cautiously optimistic all 11 of their draft picks will be under contract by then.

The Ravens have not signed any of their picks yet, one of 11 teams to hold that distinction as of Friday evening (NFL offices are closed over the weekend). Team officials expect to finish the majority of the deals the week before players are scheduled to report to Westminster on July 27. Training camp also starts two days later than last year, which gives the Ravens extra time to work on contracts.

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First-round picks Terrell Suggs (10th overall) and Kyle Boller (19th overall) will probably be the lengthiest negotiations. It is believed the Ravens have not exchanged contract proposals with either of the players yet.

"If you look at the landscape, no No. 1 picks have signed other than [Cincinnati Bengals quarterback] Carson Palmer right now," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said.

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Despite the relative inactivity coming from the Ravens' offices in Owings Mills the past few weeks, the team is on the same pace as last season. The first pick to come to terms last year, fourth-round receiver Ron Johnson, did not sign until July 18, and the bulk of the deals were completed three days before players were to report.

The inactivity is also keeping in line with the rest of the league. Only four picks in the top three rounds have signed. The Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons have been two of the most active teams, with each team having already signed four of its draft choices.

"I think the pace will pick up," Newsome said. "People are coming off vacations now."

It is too early to tell whether the Ravens will face major complications in negotiations with Suggs and Boller. A year ago, safety Ed Reed held out nine days of training camp after a dispute with the Ravens over the amount of his signing bonus.

Boller is in an awkward spot for a quarterback. The only other quarterback selected between the 12th and 25th picks over the past six years is the New York Jets' Chad Pennington.

Boller's agent, Mike Sullivan, declined to comment specifically on Boller's contract situation but said the negotiations should not be very difficult. Sullivan also represents the No. 19 pick of last year's draft, Denver Broncos receiver Ashley Lelie, who reported to training camp on time. Lelie signed a five-year, $7.1 million contract with a $4.4 million signing bonus.

The Ravens, who are close to $5 million under the salary cap, do not anticipate having to release a player in order to sign all the draft picks.


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