Boller staying

The Baltimore Sun

In a move that is expected to take the Ravens out of the Byron Leftwich hunt, backup quarterback Kyle Boller agreed to a one-year contract extension yesterday, which will keep him with the team through next season.

A first-round pick by the Ravens in 2003, Boller would have been an unrestricted free agent in March.

Although financial terms were not immediately available, it is believed Boller could earn more than $3 million next season, which would nearly double his salary this year ($1.79 million).

If the Ravens hadn't reached a deal with Boller this week, they likely would have pursued Leftwich, who was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars last week.

Now, the team is set through next season with Steve McNair as starter and Boller as backup.

Boller's decision was surprising considering he could have tested free agency after the season to see if there was an opportunity to start elsewhere.

"I am ecstatic," Boller said in a statement released by the team. "Baltimore is the place I really want to be. The Ravens have the best organization in the NFL, and I feel very fortunate that I'm going to continue to be a part of it."

Heavily criticized during his three-year run as a starter, Boller has developed into one of the top backups in the NFL, recording the third-highest quarterback rating (104.0) last season among reserves.

The Ravens need a veteran backup quarterback because of McNair, who has a history of injuries and has missed 11 games over the past four seasons. Last season, Boller replaced an injured McNair twice in the first quarter, totaling 464 yards passing and five touchdowns.

"I have a great deal of respect for [owner Steve] Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome and coach [Brian] Billick," Boller said. "I'm thankful for the confidence they've shown in me."

Boller, 26, has the arm strength, mobility and toughness that teams look for in a quarterback. His biggest problems are pocket awareness (78 sacks in 41 games played) and accuracy (55.8 career completion rate).

His erratic play has made him an emotional lightning rod for fans despite winning 18 of 34 starts.

By signing Boller to a short-term extension, the Ravens have more leeway at quarterback. Now, they can wait to see if Troy Smith develops or they can draft a quarterback next year knowing he wouldn't immediately be pressed into playing.

"This is good news for us," Billick said. "We have said all along how important Kyle is to this team, and this secures him for at least another season for us."

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