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Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Updated: July 31, 5:57 PM ET
Ravens agree to deal with first-rounder Suggs

By Len Pasquarelli

The Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday evening reached a contract agreement with defensive end Terrell Suggs of Arizona State, the 10th overall prospect selected in the 2003 draft, and the higher of the team's two first-round choices, has learned.

Expected to move immediately into the starting lineup at the right outside linebacker spot in Baltimore's 3-4 scheme, Suggs last season established an NCAA record for sacks, with 24. For his three-year college career, Suggs had 44 sacks and an amazing 65 tackles for loss in 36 appearances and 34 starts.

Suggs, 20, will sign a five-year contract that, in terms of upfront money, total base value and potential escalators, is among the top deals in the first round, a solid increase over the contract in the corresponding slot of the 2002 draft.

"Terrell is 20 years old, and in five years he will become the youngest free agent in the history of the game," said Suggs' agent, Gary Wichard. "When he's 25, he's going to break the bank."

The initial signing bonus for the contract is $2 million and the second-tier option bonus is $4.25 million. There is also a guaranteed minimum playing time incentive of $1.05 million. So the combined bonuses, fully guaranteed, total $7.3 million and will be paid out by the end of Suggs' second season in the league, which is a very favorable distribution schedule.

In addition, the base salary for 2003 is $1.1 million, and the base value of the contract is $10.09 million. Suggs can earn up to an additional $5 million in "escalators," which are largely based on his sack totals.

Despite the deal with Suggs, the Ravens are not believed to be close to an agreement yet with quarterback Kyle Boller, the latter of their first-round choices.

Suggs' stock dropped somewhat in the weeks preceding the draft because of pedestrian 40-yard times. But is was still difficult to ignore his pure pass rush skills, closing speed, and innate feel for attacking the pocket from the edge. Being drafted by the Ravens ought to represent a good fit, since Suggs is short of a hybrid player, and the rush position in the 3-4 defense typically commands a player who has defensive and and linebacker abilities.

After winning the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Lombardi Trophy and the Morris Trophy in his junior season, Suggs, known to his friends as "T-Sizzles," opted to forego his final college season.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.