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Baltimore's Baxter Is Headed To Cleveland; Trotter Stays Put

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 5, 2005; Page D08

The Baltimore Ravens lost cornerback Gary Baxter, an unrestricted free agent, to the Cleveland Browns yesterday after believing that they'd had a tentative deal in place to re-sign him.

A source familiar with the negotiations, speaking on the condition of anonymity because Baxter's deal with the Browns was not official at that point, said last night that Baxter thought his agreement with the Ravens included an $11 million signing bonus, and he balked just before signing the contract when he found that the signing bonus was to be only $7 million.

Gary Baxter
Gary Baxter
The Ravens lose No. 28 Gary Baxter, an unrestricted free agent, to the Cleveland Browns. (Chris Gardner - AP)

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He got on a plane to Cleveland yesterday and agreed to a six-year, approximately $30 million contract with the Browns that includes a signing bonus of about $10.5 million, the source said. He replaces Anthony Henry, who signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent, in Cleveland.

The Ravens are left looking for a cornerback to go with Chris McAlister. The free agent pool still includes Ty Law, Samari Rolle, Fred Smoot and Andre Dyson. But Law, Rolle and perhaps Smoot probably will be too expensive. . . .

Jeremiah Trotter, 28, didn't take the risk of leaving the Philadelphia Eagles again, not after his first departure from the team nearly ruined his career. The Pro Bowl middle linebacker re-signed with the Eagles yesterday after visiting two clubs and drawing interest from at least two others in his 2 1/2 days as an unrestricted free agent.

Trotter agreed to a five-year, $15 million contract with the Eagles that includes a $4 million signing bonus. He agreed to the deal even as he was visiting the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday, on the heels of a two-day visit to Kansas City just after the NFL's free agent market opened Wednesday. The Chiefs, apparently satisfied with the condition of Trotter's creaky knees after he underwent a physical for them Wednesday, made a push to sign Trotter before he left town Thursday. . . .

The New York Giants bolstered their offensive line by landing right tackle Kareem McKenzie, formerly of the New York Jets, with a seven-year, $37.5 million deal that includes a $12.5 million signing bonus. The Jets got their revenge, on a far smaller scale, by signing a Giants' free agent, defensive lineman Lance Legree, to a five-year, $7.3 million deal. . . .

Quarterback Drew Brees signed his one-year franchise-player contract with the San Diego Chargers, worth $8.078 million . . . Quarterback Kelly Holcomb surprisingly left Cleveland by agreeing to a four-year, $6.6 million contract with Buffalo, where he'll back up J.P. Losman. The Browns were left looking for a starting quarterback after negotiations with Holcomb broke down, and might trade for Seattle's Trent Dilfer. . . . Cleveland signed a punter, Kyle Richardson, an unrestricted free agent from Cincinnati. . . . The Bills also signed guard Mike Gandy, a free agent from Chicago. . . . Atlanta signed Todd Peterson, formerly of San Francisco, to replace Jay Feely as its place kicker.


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