Grbac, Ravens continue to meet; Bucs tender Johnson
Updated: Saturday March 03, 2001 8:51 PM
By Don Banks, Sports Illustrated
An afternoon of face-to-face negotiations in Baltimore between the Ravens and the agent for quarterback Elvis Grbac produced no contract agreement Saturday, but talks were scheduled to continue Saturday night.
At his own request, Grbac's agent, Jim Steiner, flew to Baltimore on Saturday morning and met for hours with Ravens director of football administration Pat Moriarty. And while offers and counter offers were exchanged, Steiner checked into a Baltimore-area hotel in the early evening and reported that no agreement was at hand.
Meanwhile, Baltimore's first choice among free-agent quarterbacks, Brad Johnson, received a four-year opening contract offer from Tampa Bay on Saturday afternoon, Bucs general manager Rich McKay confirmed. Talks are ongoing on that front as well, and McKay and Johnson's agent, Phil Williams, are expected to resume contact Sunday.
Steiner decided to fly to Baltimore after the Ravens on Friday made both Johnson and Grbac identical four-year contract offers believed to be in the range of $22 million. Neither quarterback is inclined to accept the Ravens' offer in its current form.
"We're negotiating," Steiner said. "I'm here and we're negotiating. ... I think it's like a race that somebody's going to win. We wanted to talk to them and get something done."
The Ravens will almost assuredly check back with Johnson before consummating any deal with Grbac, the former Kansas City Chief who visited Baltimore at his own request Friday.
And the same might be true with Johnson in regards to Tampa Bay. The Bucs called Johnson on Friday, the first day of free agency, and are interested in installing him as their starter, ahead of third-year veteran Shaun King. Their opening offer to Johnson on Saturday was believed to be competitive with Baltimore's.
Grbac and Johnson are both also being pursued by Cincinnati. Grbac has scheduled a visit with the Bengals on Sunday morning and afternoon. Johnson was planning to fly to Cincinnati on Sunday evening, but on Saturday he postponed that trip, saying he did not want to travel this weekend.
He may instead visit Cincinnati on Tuesday night and Wednesday, and then continue on to Kansas City on Wednesday night and Thursday. The Chiefs, who released Grbac in a salary-cap move Thursday, are still believed to be very interested in remaining competitive in the Johnson sweepstakes.
Johnson would appear to have more leverage in his talks with the Ravens, given that three other teams have expressed interest in him. Grbac told Baltimore head coach Brian Billick on Friday that signing with the Ravens and playing with the defending Super Bowl champions was his primary focus. Grbac's only other active pursuer is Cincinnati, although other interested teams could still emerge.
Miami, which on Friday cleared out some significant cap room, is one such possibility. The Dolphins lost out to Seattle in their bid to trade for Packers backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck on Friday. With the acquisition of Hasselbeck, the Seahawks dropped out of the running for Grbac, reducing his potential market.