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Ravens Sign Free-Agent Sharpe


Baltimore Ravens personnel director Ozzie Newsome, whose receiving records for tight ends are in danger of being passed by Shannon Sharpe, is excited about acquiring a player other teams will have contend with.

"Defensive coordinators have to game plan for him. In a game, he is a mismatch for most teams," Newsome said Wednesday. "Safeties can't match up with him 1-on-1. Neither can linebackers."

The free-agent tight end announced on his Web site that he has agreed to a four-year contract with the Ravens. Bob Eller, the Ravens' director of operations, confirmed the team reached an agreement with the seven-time Pro Bowl selection, but would not provide details. Eller said he expected Sharpe would be signed this week.

The Denver Rocky Mountain News reported it was a $14 million deal that includes a $4.5 million signing bonus. Denver's KUSA-TV reported the contract is worth $12.8 million, including a $4.5 million signing bonus, and The (Baltimore) Sun reported the deal was worth $13.2 million with a $4.5 million signing bonus.

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said the Ravens' offer to Sharpe was "significantly more than we can pay."

"I'm not saying he wasn't worth it. He may be worth it to them. They got salary cap room, and with the addition of a tight end like Shannon, they can be a real competitor in their division."

The Ravens are looking to upgrade their offense, which relied heavily on outside receivers Qadry Ismail, Justin Armour and Patrick Johnson last season.

Sharpe, 31, who missed most of last season with Denver because of a broken collarbone, fits the bill. The tight end is the Broncos' career receiving leader with 543 catches for 6,872 yards.

Sharpe said in a statement that one of the major reasons for signing with Baltimore was the chance to break the NFL mark for career receptions by a tight end, set by Newsome, while playing for the former Cleveland Browns star. Sharpe needs 110 receptions and 997 yards to eclipse Newsome's marks of 662 receptions and 7,980 yards.

Sharpe visited Baltimore's training complex Tuesday and spoke at length with Newsome and coach Brian Billick.

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