Thomas, Marion likely to get red carpet Veteran linebacker, safety afloat in free-agent pool

Ravens notebook

March 08, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Over the next two weeks, the Ravens likely will begin signing free agents to beef up their defense, and among their early acquisitions could be Dallas linebacker Broderick Thomas and Cowboys safety Brock Marion.

Thomas, one of the first to visit Baltimore last month, has the size, speed and experience that suits the Ravens' pass-rushing needs. If he joins the Ravens, the 6-foot-4, 242-pound Thomas will be playing for his fourth team in four seasons.

Tampa Bay originally signed Thomas out of Nebraska in 1989. He played with the Buccaneers -- where Ravens linebackers coach Maxie Baughan worked with him -- for five years, and had a career-high 11 sacks in 1991. Since leaving Tampa Bay after the 1993 season, Thomas has made one-year stops in Detroit, Minnesota and Dallas.

Ravens owner Art Modell met Thomas when he was here. Modell said he was impressed with Thomas, then added, "I told him he has to stop hopping around like this. He needs to pick a place and make it his home. We'd like it to be Baltimore."

"We know what we're getting, because he's done the job," coach Ted Marchibroda said. "He's got the size to be a strong linebacker, he's got the experience and he's played with a winner."

Getting Marion could be tough, since about eight other teams are interested in him. Marion is coming off a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the last two months of the 1996 season, but he is considered one of the NFL's up-and-coming safeties.

If the Ravens fail to land Marion, they probably will focus their sights on safety George Teague, his defensive backfield mate in Dallas last year. Like Marion, Teague is a four-year veteran. Teague was drafted in the third round out of Alabama, the alma mater of Ravens vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome.

The Ravens have only one safety under contract in Bennie Thompson, although they probably will move second-year cornerback Donny Brady there as well.

Another kicker in town

The Ravens have found some training camp competition for place-kicker Matt Stover. They have agreed to terms with Steve McLaughlin, who was the first kicker drafted in 1995. McLaughlin, a third-round pick out of Arizona, was cut after nine games by the Rams that year, then was beaten out by Morten Andersen in Atlanta's 1996 training camp.

"Steve is coming there with the idea that he has a chance to win the job," said his agent, Steve Weinberg. "If it's close, maybe he'll win it because of salary cap reasons."

Weinberg has a point. McLaughlin's two-year deal is worth $425,000, and he would be paid a base salary of $164,000 in 1997. Stover, who is signed through next year, is set to earn a $598,000 salary this year.

Miscellaneous

The Ravens have filled the last opening in their coaching staff by hiring Ken Whisenhunt as tight ends coach. Safety Rondell Jones, a four-year veteran with Denver who has played primarily on special teams, visited yesterday. Ravens linebacker and special teams ace Eddie Sutter will soon be an ex-Raven officially. Sutter has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with Cincinnati, pending a physical on Tuesday. Tight end Brian Kinchen will receive the Extra Effort Award at a dinner sponsored by the Ravens Roost at the Hagerstown Elks Lodge on April 5.

Pub Date: 3/08/97

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