Drew’s gut: Another team will surface in the Ray-chase

March 02, 2009 | Drew Forrester

It’s a snow day here in Baltimore and a lot of people didn’t bother making the trip to work today. 

Somewhere in Boca Raton (FL) today, Ray Lewis is probably not at all influenced by the bad weather up here.

He – along with agent David Dunn and his firm – is busy trying to FIND work for 2009.  

Everywhere I go, no matter if I’m on the air or dabbling on Facebook, people are asking the same thing: “what’s Ray going to do?”

I know TWO things:

A) I don’t know where Ray is going.

B) Ray doesn’t know where Ray is going.

Not today, anyway.

This whole saga is now entering its 4th day, although Ray’s camp would argue it’s actually entering its 8th month, since the initial $12mm offer for Lewis came last August during training camp and it’s remained unresolved ever since.

So, here’s the answer – or MY answer – to the question, “what’s Ray going to do?”

I don’t know.

But here’s what I think has happened…recently…and here’s where I think this is headed.

I think Ray has talked with other teams since Friday.  How many?  I don’t know.  Maybe only one (besides the Ravens).  Maybe two.  

But, I believe Ray (and his agent) have discussed a contract with at least one other team in the NFL since he became a free agent on Friday.

What happened?  That’s easy.  Ray heard from a team or two (or three, maybe) and the money being offered wasn’t good enough.  That doesn’t make the (possible) deal dead, though.  After all, Ray hasn’t signed in Baltimore yet, either, but the deal with Ozzie isn’t dead.  Ray’s not going to end this thing quickly.  It’s “Ray-Time” now.  Lots of TV exposure.  Media coverage.  Internet fodder.  It’s showtime.

I know everyone’s prevailing thought is:  “Ray’s phone didn’t ring on Friday.”

I doubt that.

Are you telling me that not one of the other 31 teams in the league didn’t call David Dunn on Friday to at least inquire about Ray and his asking price?

Understand this:  If Ray Lewis fielded a call from (insert team here) on Friday and the offer was for $11 million guaranteed and $20 million over 3 years, it wouldn’t do any good to float that offer out there for the media to chew on, discuss and react to, right? 

I’m betting – and I could be wrong here – that Ray got a call and, probably, an offer or two on Friday but none of them were worth repeating…or leaking to the NFL Network.  

The only offer Ray is interested in right now is one that either equals or trumps the Ravens’ offer of $17 million guaranteed and $24 million total.

Anything less, as Charles Barkley once said, “is uncivilized”.

The only way for Lewis and Dunn to spike Baltimore’s proposal is to find another competitor in the negotiation-game.  If (insert team here) came through with an $11 million guarantee, that wouldn’t help matters at all.

In fact, it strikes me as so odd that Dunn talked with The Sun’s Jamison Hensley over the weekend that I have to wonder why on earth he did that?  Why now?  Was it to drive up the price with another team in the league?  As in:  “We have to up our offer to Ray…his agent is talking about going back to Baltimore.”

Of course, the flip side is there is no other team and David Dunn spoke with Hensley simply for damage control – on behalf of Ray, in Baltimore.  

That’s possible.  After all, It IS reasonable to assume no other team has been rung Ray’s phone since Friday — but I’m not believing that.

My gut tells me a team is going to surface in the next day or two and make a public play for Ray.

They might already be in discussions with Lewis.  After all, why would – for argument sake, let’s say Miami – the Dolphins reveal they’re interested in Ray?  If Miami IS interested but they’re not quite yet to the $17 million/$24 million level, it does them no good to publicize the fact that they’re a player in the game now. All that might do is get an AFC East rival on their toes — or send Ozzie Newsome and Pat Moriarty back to the office to sharpen their pencil.

I’m just guessing here…nothing more, nothing less.  But, I’m trying to use logic and apply what I know about Ray, the Ravens, the situation and the NFL to come up with a thought at the 4-day point of the free agency circus.

Ray is likely to re-sign in Baltimore.  That’s how it looks right now.

But, he’s not going to go down without a battle.

It’s always been that way for him, anyway.

I have a weird feeling this thing isn’t over by a longshot.

Another team is out there lurking.  That’s my gut talking.