ATLANTA - Murder charges will be dropped against Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis in exchange for him pleading guilty to obstruction of justice under a tentative agreement worked out yesterday with prosecutors, sources familiar with the case said.

The agreement, which brings to an abrupt end a two-week trial that had gone very badly for prosecutors, recommends Lewis receive 12 months' probation on the misdemeanor obstruction charge, according to sources familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity.

That would preserve his ability to play in the upcoming NFL season. Lewis is believed to be only the second active player in the National Football League to be charged with murder.

Reached at home, Lewis' chief attorney, Edward T. M. Garland, yesterday declined to confirm or deny the agreement. But he said, "We think Monday will be a good day for Ray Lewis."

Ravens owner Art Modell said last night that he was "aware of it," referring to a possible Lewis plea bargain, but said he would not comment "until it comes to fruition today."

Coach Brian Billick said he could not comment. "It wouldn't be prudent."

Lewis' spiritual adviser, the Rev. Richard Harris of Florida, said he had talked to Lewis last night and that the football player felt the tentative deal was "excellent" news.

"He's relieved," Harris said. "His life is no longer on the line."

Both sides were scheduled to appear at 8:30 a.m. today before Superior Court Judge Alice D. Bonner. If Bonner, who has presided over the trial, rejects probation for Lewis, prosecutors will drop the charges and Lewis will face no penalty, under the terms of the agreement, the sources said.

Under the agreement, Lewis would be required to testify against his two co-defendants, Reginald Oakley, 31, of Baltimore and Joseph Sweeting, 34, of Miami. Both could be damaged by his testimony, according to one source.

Steve Sadow of Atlanta, an attorney for Sweeting, said last night he didn't know of a deal. "That will be very interesting," he said.

The three, all of whom pleaded not guilty, were being tried together on charges of aggravated assault and murder in connection with the stabbing deaths of two men in Atlanta's fashionable nightclub district at 4 a.m. Jan. 31, the day after the Super Bowl was played here.

Prosecutors alleged that the three, after an exchange of vulgar language possibly initiated by the victims, attacked Jacinth Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, stabbing them fatally.

The victims were both from Akron, Ohio, but had moved to the Atlanta area.

Witnesses promised

At the beginning of the trial, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard promised jurors he would bring several witnesses to the stand who would describe what happened. But as he moved through his case, witness after witness hedged, testifying to less than they had told investigators.

Even friends of the victims who had been with them during the fight were hazy about who did what. The most damaging testimony came against Oakley, who, several witnesses said, "flipped" and beat Baker.

But the witnesses also said Baker had hit Oakley on the head with a champagne bottle first - giving Oakley grounds to claim self-defense.

No witness testified to seeing Lewis stab anyone. The driver of the limousine that Lewis had rented was expected to be the prosecution's star witness, but he recanted earlier statements to investigators.