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Published: Tuesday, 3/22/2005

Ravens pay to keep Taylor

ASSOCIATED PRESS
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OWINGS MILLS, Md. - The Baltimore Ravens have matched the one-year, $3 million offer sheet former University of Toledo running back Chester Taylor signed last week with the Cleveland Browns.

The Ravens had until tomorrow to match the offer for free agent Taylor, the primary backup to Pro Bowler Jamal Lewis, but opted to act yesterday.

The deal includes a $2 million base salary, a $1 million signing bonus and a pair of $100,000 incentive clauses.

"This shows the continued commitment of Steve Bisciotti to win and the flexibility of our cap that we can retain a player like Chester," Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Over the last three years, Chester has been productive both when spelling Jamal Lewis and when he has started for him. Keeping Chester makes us a stronger and deeper team."

Taylor, slated to compete with Lee Suggs for the Browns' starting tailback job, would receive $100,000 if he makes the Pro Bowl and $100,000 if he rushes for 1,000 yards. It's unlikely that those incentives will be triggered in 2005 because of Lewis' presence. Taylor rushed for 714 yards and two touchdowns last season while catching 30 passes.

"He looks forward to helping the Ravens compete for a Super Bowl ring in 2005," agent Ken Sarnoff said of Taylor.

Taylor's contract will count approximately $3 million against the Ravens' 2005 salary cap. He is still slated to be an unrestricted free agent in 2006, when he would be free to sign with any franchise. Taylor was drafted in the sixth round in 2002.

If the Ravens hadn't opted to match the offer, they would have received the Browns' sixth-round draft pick as compensation.



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