The Baltimore Ravens reached an agreement last night with Pro Bowl defensive end Michael McCrary that will keep him with the team through the 2004 season.
McCrary and the Ravens agreed in principal to extend his contract for five years, the team said in a statement. Financial terms were not disclosed. McCrary was set to make $1.9 million this season. McCrary's agent, Michael George, could not be reached to comment.
McCrary, who is in the final year of a three-year deal, had said he would become a free agent next year if an agreement was not reached on a contract extension by the start of the regular season on Sunday.
The Ravens have indicated that they would make him their franchise player next year, which would keep McCrary in Baltimore through the 2000 season. As a franchise player, McCrary would earn the average salary of the top five players at his position in the league.
McCrary left Baltimore on Aug. 28 and returned to his home in Phoenix because he was upset with the pace of negotiations. He was fined by the club and returned to the team on Sept. 1.
McCrary continues to recover from an offseason knee operation, the fourth of his career, and the Ravens have limited his practice time. He did not play in any of their four preseason games. There remains some concern about his durability.
McCrary, 29, led the team in sacks last season with 14 1/2, which was second best in the AFC. He was second on the team in tackles with 102 and is a key component of the Ravens' pass rush.