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Ravens bottle Sam Adams

Free-agent acquisition eases offseason DT worries

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Posted: Saturday April 15, 2000 10:15 PM

  Free agent Sam Adams struck a four-year, $20 million deal with Baltimore. Al Bello/Allsport

By Don Banks, Sports Illustrated

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Sam Adams' bags made it to Green Bay. But he didn't.

The Seattle free-agent defensive tackle signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens Saturday morning, just before he was due to fly to Green Bay and sign with the Packers.

After his all-day negotiations with the Ravens broke down Friday night, Adams was at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport early Saturday morning preparing to catch a 9:30 a.m. flight to Green Bay. Ravens coach Brian Billick reached Adams on his cell phone and convinced the sixth-year NFL veteran to agree to terms with Baltimore.

Adams' luggage had already been checked to Green Bay, but he skipped the flight, catching a cab back to the Ravens' team complex. About 90 minutes later, Adams was introduced to the media as the newest Raven.

Adams received a $2.5 million signing bonus, but his deal is severely backloaded in the last two years for salary-cap purposes, and in essence is a two-year contract worth $4.8 million. The final two years of the deal are worth $15.2 million -- $7 million in 2002 and $8.2 million in 2003 - but Adams is not likely to see that money. The extra years were added to the contract in order to lessen the impact of the signing bonus on the Ravens' salary cap.

"We caught him at the airport and got things done," Billick said. "Sam wanted to be here. It was mostly a case of miscommunication. But it made me feel like I was back in my old college recruiting days."

By addressing their need at defensive tackle even before Saturday's NFL draft began, the Ravens were in the position to all but take Florida State defensive tackle Corey Simon off their draft board at their No. 5 and No. 10 picks.

Ravens' veteran defensive tackle Larry Webster is suspended indefinitely pending an appeal for an alleged violation of the league's substance abuse policy. In addition, Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, 32, is a potential training camp holdout. Siragusa, who has a bad knee, wants a contract extension and may consider retirement.

Adams' 2000 base salary is $500,000, and his salary cap number this year is a manageable $1.1 million. His 2001 base escalates to $1.8 million, with the final two years added to the deal just to help out with the prorated portion of his $2.5 million signing bonus. Adams earned $2.2 million last season in Seattle.

Adams told the Baltimore Sun Friday night that he was angry with the Ravens over the failed negotiations and was headed to Green Bay to sign with the Packers. Green Bay offered him a one-year deal for $1.5 million, but according to Billick, the Packers sweetened their offer to Adams Saturday morning, further enticing him to town.

"Green Bay would have been a very exciting place for me to play," Adams said. "But I'm here in Baltimore and I'm very comfortable with that decision."

Asked what went wrong in his talks with the Ravens, Adams said: "I don't know. I wanted to be here. I gave them ample time. We had a very fair negotiation with them. I thought everything was up front and honest. But what matters most is that I'm here."

Adams, 26, played three of his six seasons in Seattle alongside Michael McCrary, who is now a Ravens defensive end. Baltimore's defense was ranked No. 2 overall in 1999, and ends McCrary and Peter Boulware are among the unit's best players, in addition to Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

By locking up Adams, Ravens owner Art Modell said his team in essence had three high first-round draft choices Saturday. Baltimore selected Tennessee running back Jamal Lewis and Florida receiver Travis Taylor with the No. 5 and No. 10 picks.

Adams was no longer in Seattle's plans, a fact that prompted him to take a none too thinly veiled shot at Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren.

"The Seahawks have no interest in Sam Adams," he said Saturday. "They don't feel Sam Adams is a key piece to their puzzle, or a piece at all to their puzzle. So it was time for Sam to move on.

"I'm not upset about that. I wish the Seahawks' luck. I have too many friends on the team. I don't wish any bad luck on them. Mike Holmgren is another story."

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