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Tuesday, June 6, 2000
Inside the huddle: Lewis can bail out Ravens

By Chris Mortensen
ESPN SportsCenter

Now that Ray Lewis has escaped his five-month ordeal on a murder rap, he can get around to helping the Baltimore Ravens with their salary cap.

The Ravens would like to restructure Lewis' contract that calls for a $4.75 million base salary this year. But while Lewis was on trial, they were uncomfortable giving a signing bonus, which is necessary to lower the cap number.

The Ravens need space in part because of their predicament with all-Pro tackle Jonathon Ogden, who can be a "baseball free agent" -- in other words, totally unrestricted -- after the 2000 season. Ogden is willing to give the Ravens a 10 percent discount on what other teams are wiling to pay him, but his unique market value means Baltimore will have to make him the first $7 million lineman, which includes a $15-16 million signing bonus.

It might make sense to wait until next February to sign Ogden, however. That's when the cap inflates again -- and free agency does not begin until March 1.

Deion gives 'Skins strong corner combo
Isn't this appropriate -- Deion Sanders' signs a $55 million deal while he's building another new home in Prosper. Yep -- Prosper, Texas.

Sanders will be the team's starting corner, opposite Champ Bailey, but the Redskins don't feel that diminishes the value of 40-year-old Darrell Green, the future Hall of Famer who ran a 4.24 40 last week to celebrate his own new contract. In today's NFL, the Redskins figure they're in nickel coverage -- needing three corners -- at least 40 plays a game. And they believe that the rival Cowboys will be playing more 3-wideout sets under new offensive coordinator Jack Reilly.

Growing up
Redskins coach Norv Turner is counting on veterans like Green, Sanders and Marco Coleman to get rookie LaVar Arrington in line. Arrington diappointed the team when he turned a one-day excused absence into a full week away from the club without communication after his girlfriend gave birth to a child.

The 'Skins will emphasize responsibility and accountability to Arrington, so they don't fall into the same trap they did with Michael Westbrook, who took almost four years before he matured.