Peter Boulware signed a one-year contract with the Ravens last night, completing a reunion that remained uncertain for most of the day.
According to a league source, the holdup in the linebacker's physical was determining the seriousness of scar tissue in his surgically repaired knee.
Once the Ravens' doctors cleared him after hours of consultation, Boulware rushed over to the team's training camp hotel at 6:15 p.m. - showing no signs of last year's limp while moving briskly in the hallways - and finalized a deal that is believed to be worth $1 million, including an additional $1 million in incentives.
"I think I should be fully recovered," Boulware said. "If I am 100 percent, the old Peter Boulware is back. I hope and believe that I am. I will help this team be a better team."
Health concerns are the main reason why Boulware had stayed a free agent since the Ravens cut him for salary cap reasons in early May.
Four teams watched him work out a month ago, and the opinion was he needed more time to recover from knee and toe injuries that sidelined him for the entire 2004 season.
The Ravens likely will bring Boulware along slowly and might take a couple weeks before easing him into contact drills. The four-time Pro Bowl player hasn't participated in a full week of practice since December 2003.
Boulware's primary role will be as a pass-rushing specialist, lining him up on one end and Terrell Suggs on the other. There's been a need for a premier rusher since the first day of training camp, when rookie second-round pick Dan Cody went down with a likely season-ending knee injury.
If Boulware shows he can handle more than 15 to 20 snaps a game, he could split some time with starting strong-side linebacker Adalius Thomas.
"We've always talked about the pressure from the outside and contrasting that with Terrell Suggs," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "If we can use him more, we will."
Durability had never been a concern with Boulware. Despite countless injuries, he played through pain to suit up for the first 111 games of his career, which endeared him to fans and teammates.
So the news of the Ravens re-signing the franchise's all-time sacks leader quickly spread during the team dinner.
"Yeah, he's had a year off. To me, that means his legs are going to be a little bit fresher," defensive end Tony Weaver said. "You add Pete to anybody's team and that's going to be a huge plus."
The teaming of Boulware with Suggs will make it tough on offenses, which will have to decide which one to double-team.
Boulware is the franchise's all-time leader in sacks, registering 67 1/2 over seven seasons. Suggs has 22 1/2 sacks in his first two seasons, becoming the fourth-fastest in NFL history to reach the 20-sack mark.
"When I came in as [a] rookie, we had Mike McCrary and Peter Boulware. It spoiled me in the [defensive] backfield," strong safety Will Demps said. "Now you've got Suggs, you've got Pete, you've got [Thomas]. I don't know how we're going to get everybody on the field at the same time. It's going to be crazy. We've got so many athletes."
But the return of Boulware doesn't mean he'll end his career here.
"I'll take it one year at a time," said Boulware, who turns 31 in December. "I want to play as long as I possibly can. I'd love to play three or four years, if possible. As long as I can play and be healthy, I'll play."
Next for Ravens
Preseason matchup: Philadelphia Eagles (0-1) at Ravens (0-1)
When: Tomorrow, 8 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 45, Comcast SportsNet/1300 AM, 102.7 FM