Ravens to seek Turner trade Safety's salary looms as obstacle

release considered last resort

February 21, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Eric Turner's days with the Ravens probably are numbered, since the team has asked his agent to field trade offers for the safety whose price tag is too high for him to remain here.

The New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons reportedly are interested in Turner, whom Ravens owner Art Modell said he would trade for a first-round pick or multiple choices in lower rounds. Modell added that if a trade cannot be arranged, Turner, whose salary-cap cost for 1997 is $3.9 million, could be released.

"We don't want to [release Turner], but it's something we may have to consider," Modell said. "We've been in touch with his agent to enlist his support and see what we can make out of this thing. He's very high-priced. In this day and age, no team can afford a safety that expensive."

Mike Sullivan, Turner's agent, declined to comment.

Turner, a six-year veteran, is heading into the final season of a three-year, $8.4 million contract he signed after making his first Pro Bowl appearance in 1994. At the time, the Cleveland Browns designated him as their franchise player. Turner is set to make $1.7 million in salary this year, and also is due to collect a $1.3 million roster bonus on March 1. Another $916,700, the final prorated share of his original $2.75 million signing bonus, will count against the Ravens' salary cap regardless of where Turner plays in 1997.

By moving Turner before March 1, the Ravens could create $3 million in cap room. Another option would be to keep Turner by extending and restructuring a more cap-friendly contract -- which a Ravens trading partner also would do. Whether through a trade or release, Turner is not expected to wear a Baltimore uniform this season.

"I wouldn't sign off on that 100 percent, although the odds are we're leaning in a different direction [with Turner]," Modell said.

"If the opportunity presents itself, if money could be better used to make us a better football team, we have to look at it," said Ozzie Newsome, the team's vice president of player personnel. "We're looking at all the ways we can improve our football team."

Earlier this month, Turner played in his second Pro Bowl as a replacement for Denver's Steve Atwater (knee surgery). Turner originally was named as a first alternate at free safety. Last season, Turner ranked second on the team with 112 tackles and tied for the team lead with five interceptions.

In other news, the Ravens continued their free-agent shopping yesterday, when Pittsburgh defensive end Ray Seals and Dallas safety Brock Marion spent several hours at the team's Owings Mills complex to meet with Newsome, coach Ted Marchibroda and defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis.

Additionally, the Ravens reportedly intend to schedule free-agent visits by Cowboys safety George Teague and Rams guard Leo Goeas.

NOTES: Ravens executive vice president David Modell described his Wednesday talk with Gary Uberstein, free-agent wide receiver Michael Jackson's agent, as a "very good, hourlong meeting." Jackson will visit with Kansas City, Houston and possibly several other teams before signing a new contract. Modell said Uberstein assured him that the Ravens will have every opportunity to re-sign Jackson. "I feel good, in the sense that, no matter what happens, we're going to have a good, clean shot" at Jackson, Modell said. Three of the Ravens' developmental players have been assigned to the World League. Quarterback Scott Otis will play for the Amsterdam Admirals, and offensive lineman Spencer Folau and tight end A. J. Ofodile will play for the Rhine Fire.

Pub Date: 2/21/97

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