The Baltimore Ravens ended their final offseason minicamp Thursday, with no sign of cornerback Chris McAlister, their designated franchise player. Coach Brian Billick addressed the situation, another potential distraction that could stretch into training camp.
McAlister missed the mandatory minicamp last week and voluntary minicamp this week. He has not signed the one-year, $7.1 million tender offer, which means he is not obligated to attend practices because technically he is not under contract. McAlister would like a long-term deal, and negotiations between the Ravens and agent Mitch Frankel can resume July 15.
McAlister, 27, told the Baltimore Sun that he felt the team was treating him differently than some of his teammates in contract negotiations. He has had brushes with the law -- he was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana in 2000 and with driving under the influence in 2003 -- but charges in both cases were dropped.
Several of the Ravens have, or have had, legal troubles. Linebacker Ray Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing justice in exchange for murder charges being dropped in 2000. Running back Jamal Lewis is awaiting trial on federal drug conspiracy charges. Cornerback Corey Fuller has been charged with running a gambling house in Tallahassee, and with using a firearm in commission of a felony. Linebacker Terrell Suggs has a Sept. 9 trial date on two counts of felony assault. The Ravens recently signed cornerback Dale Carter, a 12-year veteran who has been suspended five times for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Billick was adamant in saying that McAlister's off-field conduct has no bearing on negotiations.
"At no point has there been, or no point now, in regards to the contract, is Chris's character or what he does off the field, an issue for us in regards to the contract," Billick said. "I'm always concerned about my players and how they conduct themselves. Let's keep in mind that Chris McAlister has never been convicted of anything. There's nothing in the negotiations in any way, shape, or form, that is reflective of our concern that way. There's nothing going to be in the contract that addresses it in any way because that would be in appropriate."
Players will report to training camp on July 29; their first practice is the following morning.