Defensive end Michael McCrary was absent from the Baltimore Ravens without permission today. Coach Brian Billick's response: Negotiations on a new contract would not resume until he returns.
"We've made it real clear what our position is," said Billick, who had spoken with McCrary by phone. "We want Michael to be here. He's a major part of our football team. I have no doubt, none whatsoever, that a deal will get done. But we are not going to negotiate with him not in camp. I have every confidence he's going to be here."
Billick said the Ravens would begin fining McCrary at a rate believed to be $5,000 per day.
McCrary did not join the team for its exhibition game Saturday night in Baltimore, but that was not required, and the players had Sunday off. His agent, Michael George, broke off two days of face-to-face talks here with the Ravens on Friday.
"There's nothing to negotiate," George said. "They know that. They know what the market is [and] their offer was way below market. [McCrary] felt they were not negotiating in good faith."
McCrary wants a contract similar to the one the New York Giants recently gave defensive end Michael Strahan. It is a four-year, $32 million deal that included a $12 million signing bonus.
Sources close to the negotiations said McCrary's latest offer was six years for a total of $39.5 million with a signing bonus of $13 million. The Ravens have offered a six-year deal worth $36 million with a signing bonus of $11.5 million.
"If they don't want to pay, or can't, we understand," George said. "Let them work out a trade with another team. The ball's in their court."
To the possibility of a trade, Billick said: "There are a number of options. We'll explore them all. The one thing we expect is to be dealt with professionally. I've tried to deal with the players with respect, tried to treat them like men in everything we've done. I'd like to be dealt that same respect."
McCrary, who has had 35 sacks in his last 38 regular-season games, has been recovering from off-season knee surgery and was scheduled to play for the first time when the Ravens conclude their preseason Friday with a noon game against the New York Giants in Baltimore.
Before leaving the team, McCrary had threatened to explore free agency if a new contract was not signed before the Sept. 12 regular season opener. Players are not paid their salaries until the regular season begins. McCrary's salary this season is $2.5 million.
"It's all about leverage," George said.
Ravens owner Art Modell was very supportive of Billick.
"It's his job," Modell said. "I will counsel and consult. But this is Brian Billick's call from start to finish."
Ravens Notes: The Ravens cut five players, including rookie free agent defensive end Charles Preston, a former star at Cardozo High in Washington, and placed former Virginia safety Anthony Poindexter on the physically unable to perform list. One more player move is required by 4 p.m. Tuesday to get to the NFL-mandated 65-player roster.
The maneuver with Poindexter suggests that he might be able to recover enough from a serious knee injury at Virginia in game seven last season to play late this season. Players on the physically-unable-to-perform list may start practice with their team after the sixth regular season game and the club then has three weeks to decide what to do with them.
A projected top-15 pick in the draft had he remained healthy, Poindexter lasted until the seventh round and had been expected to miss his entire rookie season.
"Things have come around fairly fast," he said.
Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa also missed practice for what Billick called "a training matter" and may play against the Giants. Outside linebacker Peter Boulware has recovered enough from a shoulder injury to make his first preseason appearance Friday.