The Baltimore Ravens signed Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap to a six-year contract extension yesterday, locking up one of their offensive cornerstones through 2011.
Terms were not disclosed and a phone message left for Heap's agent, David Dunn, was not returned, but Coach Brian Billick said that Heap is now the highest-paid tight end in the NFL. Last year, Cleveland's Kellen Winslow Jr. signed what was then considered to be the richest contract for a tight end, a six-year deal worth $29 million that could be pushed to $40 million with incentives.
Heap, 25, has been one of Baltimore's most popular and productive players. He led the Ravens in receptions in 2002 (68 for 836 yards) and 2003 (57 for 693 yards).
Last season, Heap finished fourth on the team with 27 catches for 303 yards, and he was second with three touchdown catches, despite being limited to just six games because of an ankle injury. He is currently at home in Arizona, rehabilitating from offseason ankle and shoulder surgery.
"I was surprised [the extension] got done as quick as it did," said Heap. "My main focus this offseason has just been to get back to where I want to be, get back to being healthy and ready for this season. I'm thrilled, first and foremost. Being able to stay here for almost the rest of my career is exciting."
The Ravens now can focus on signing some of their other players, such as running back Jamal Lewis, who also is in the final year of his contract. There had been reports that safety Ed Reed was unhappy and wanted to renegotiate his contract, which has two years remaining, but the NFL defensive player of the year played down that talk.
"When that time comes, we'll see. That's definitely something that's going to go on with my agent and the Ravens," Reed said. "I feel good. When it happens, it happens. I'm focused on practicing right now and learning the defense."
-- Camille Powell