Ray Lewis signs $50 million deal

WESTMINSTER, Md., Aug. 1 (UPI) -- The salary cap-ravaged Baltimore Ravens locked up five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis to a seven-year contract extension Thursday.

Terms were not disclosed by the team, but Lewis' agent Roosevelt Barnes confirmed the deal is worth $50 million with a record $19 million signing bonus.


Lewis, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and Super Bowl XXXV Most Valuable Player, had two years left on a contract that was worth $4.75 million annually.

"This is where I started my foundation and this is where I want to end it," Lewis said in a news conference after deal was made final.

Barnes had been working with Ravens senior vice president Ozzie Newsome and chief negotiator Pat Moriarty in marathon sessions for two days before an agreement was reached.

"It was a long, drawn-out process, but both sides were patient," Lewis said. "It was just cutting the numbers here and there, but I got what I wanted. There was never any doubt that this would get done."

Barnes also represents Ravens outside linebacker Peter Boulware, who led the AFC in sacks last season and will enter the final year of his contract in 2003.


"We're going to go back to work on Peter," Barnes said. "Hopefully, that will be in the works too. I believe they have the urgency to get Peter done."

Lewis and Boulware are two of just four starters remaining from the Ravens' defense that set an NFL record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season en route to a Super Bowl title two years ago. The others are defensive end Michael McCrary and cornerback Chris McAlister.

Due to salary cap restraints, the Ravens were forced to release safety Rod Woodson and defensive end Rob Burnett. They lost cornerback Duane Starks to free agency and outside linebacker Jamie Sharper to the expansion draft and have yet to re-sign free agent defensive tackle Sam Adams, who is also represented by Barnes. Tony Siragusa, the other starting defensive tackle, retired.

Lewis' extension will clear space for Baltimore to try to re-sign Adams.

"We will start to engage in contract talks with Sam Adams and other players," Newsome said.

The 27-year-old Lewis is regarded as the league's premier middle linebacker. He has made the Pro Bowl each of the last five years and led the Ravens in tackles each of the last six.


Baltimore owner Art Modell, Newsome and coach Brian Billick fully supported Lewis when he was originally charged with murder in the stabbing deaths of two men outside a nightclub in an Atlanta suburb on Jan. 31, 2000, the night of Super Bowl XXXIV.

Lewis pleaded guilty to impeding the police investigation and the murder charges were dropped.

Lewis put that nightmarish ordeal behind him, earning Defensive Player of the Year honors and leading the Ravens to their first-ever Super Bowl title in 2000.

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