Ravens could sign 2 today Morris, Green close

Goganious to work out

September 24, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens spent their bye week re-evaluating and evaluating players, and they could sign running back Bam Morris and tight end Eric Green as early as today. They also have begun talks with linebacker Keith Goganious.

The team has tentatively scheduled a news conference for 3 p.m. today to announce the signing of Morris or both Morris and Green to two-year contracts.

Goganious, a fourth-year player, is one of several linebackers scheduled to work out for the Ravens this morning, but is the top candidate in the group.

"I think the immediate picture is now starting to come to a close," said Ozzie Newsome, the team's vice president of personnel. "There are still a few more things to work out before the plan is complete."

Morris, who rushed for 1,395 yards during his two years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, cleared the Ravens' final hurdle yesterday morning when he passed his physical.

Morris did not return phone calls to his hotel room last night, but Ravens owner Art Modell has said his contract is only for slightly more than the minimum of $196,000 a year, but is filled with incentives.

Green worked out in front of the entire Ravens offensive staff and strength and conditioning coach Jerry Simmons yesterday afternoon, and is expected to take a physical this morning.

Newsome said Green's practice session went well and if everything works out with agent Drew Rosenhaus, he might be on the Ravens' roster with Morris today.

"The workout was a formality," said Rosenhaus. "I just have some minor things to go over with Ozzie Newsome, but I think we'll reach an agreement."

Morris, though, can't practice with the team until Oct. 7 or play in a game until Oct. 12 because he violated the league's policy on substance abuse after pleading guilty to a marijuana-possession charge on June 26.

Because Green is a sixth-year player, he has to be paid a minimum salary of $275,000. Modell has said the team has offered Green slightly more than the minimum, but the contract also has been loaded with incentives.

Goganious, who spent three years with the Buffalo Bills and last year with the Jacksonville Jaguars, will get a one-year deal worth between $200,000 and $250,000 if he signs with the Ravens, according to a team source.

"You're always working to improve your football team and if Eric Green and Bam Morris sign, then we're looking a lot better," said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda. "If Eric Green performs anywhere near his past level, then we have become a better football team.

"We already know what we're going to do; it's just a matter of getting all the physical ducks in place."

To make room for the new players under the league salary cap, the Ravens may have to waive several players or restructure several contracts of current players. The top candidates to be released are reserve running backs Leroy Hoard and Earnest Hunter and tight end Harold Bishop.

If the Ravens cut Hoard, that would free up $750,000, and Bishop's and Hunter's salaries would add up to nearly another $300,000.

"With Harold, I think the effort and desire have been there, but the production hasn't," said Marchibroda. "Earnest has a lot of talent, but he is still in the learning process."

"I'm just numb to the whole situation," said Hoard, who would receive at least $750,000 of his $1.5 million contract. "In this business, if you have to, you stab your own brother in the back to take care of No. 1."

Newsome has talked in the past with agent James Sexton about renegotiating the contract of safety Stevon Moore, who will make $1.15 million in base salary this season, but as of yesterday Moore's contract was not a factor in the possible signings of Green, Morris and Goganious.

Offensive tackles Orlando Brown and Tony Jones are also candidates for restructuring, but as of late yesterday afternoon the Ravens seemed set on waiving players.

Marchibroda said Green might be used on a limited basis in Sunday's game against the Saints if he signs today. The coach also said he was not bothered by Green's reputation for missing a lot of practices or that he's had arthroscopic surgery on his knee four times.

Both Green and Morris have missed time for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Green was suspended for six games in 1992.

Marchibroda did not appear worried about their past problems, even though he has criticized his team for not having proper veteran leadership this season.

"I'm not saying this just to have something to say, but I feel this way," the coach said. "I believe in giving guys a second chance. It's just like being on the field: You just don't cut guys became they make a mistake. Now, if it keeps happening over and over again, then you have problems."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: New Orleans Saints

When Sunday, 1 p.m.

Site: Memorial Stadium

Records: Saints 0-4; Ravens 1-2.

TV/Radio: Ch. 45/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Pub Date: 9/24/96

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