OWINGS MILLS — It was a doubly productive first day for the Baltimore Ravens at the annual NFL owners meetings.
First, the Ravens learned that they will open the 2007 season Sept. 10 on Monday Night Football at the Cincinnati Bengals as part of a national television doubleheader.
Hours later, the Ravens were awarded four compensatory draft selections in this yearâ€™s draft, including a pair of fourth-round selections (134th and 137th overall), a fifth-round pick (174th overall) and a sixth-round selection (207th overall).
The amount of compensatory picks ties the Ravens for the highest in the league with the New England Patriots. The secretive formula for compensating teams for free agent losses from the previous year is devised around salary, playing time and postseason awards.
Baltimore was hoping for as high as a third-round selection, but wound up being rewarded with solid compensation for losing running back Chester Taylor, nose guard Maake Kemoeatu, defensive end Tony Weaver and safety Will Demps during the veteran signing period last year.
The league only awarded four third-round compensatory picks, giving them to the San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders.
Now, the defending AFC North champions have eight total draft picks this year after trading their third-round and seventh-round draft picks to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for running back Willis McGahee along with a fourth-round draft pick to the Tennessee Titans for quarterback Steve McNair.
The Ravens hold the No. 29 overall pick of the first round.
Meanwhile, this marks the second time in franchise history that the Ravens have opened the season on prime time. In 2005, the Ravens lost their season opener to the Colts, 24-7, in a nationally televised Sunday night game.
With a 7 p.m. kickoff against their AFC North rival, the Ravens will open the leagueâ€™s Monday night schedule followed by the 49ers hosting the Arizona Cardinals later that night.
The Ravens lost a pair of prime-time games last season on the road against the Denver Broncos and Bengals.
The entire NFL schedule will be released the first week of April, tentatively scheduled for April 5.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.