Ravens close to breaking free-agent ice Signings of G Goeas, Cowboys LB Thomas could happen today

Raiders discuss draft deal

Club also steps up talks with Pleasant, Teague

March 18, 1997|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

In one of the team's most active days during the off-season, the Ravens were close to completing deals yesterday with free agents Broderick Thomas, a Dallas Cowboys linebacker, and Leo Goeas, a St. Louis Rams guard, while also having trade discussions with the Oakland Raiders about the Ravens' No. 4 overall selection in the draft.

Terms of the deals were not available, but Ravens owner Art Modell said the announcement on Thomas could come as early as today. Goeas has agreed in principle to a three-year deal, said Ozzie Newsome, the team's vice president of player personnel.

Also yesterday, the Ravens stepped up negotiations with free-agent defensive end Anthony Pleasant and Cowboys free-agent safety George Teague.

"I said from the outset that we probably weren't going to sign players in the first couple of weeks of free agency," said Newsome. "If you take a look around the league, there wasn't a whole lot of movement in that time.

"Our priorities were to re-sign several of our own players, which we have done in Michael Jackson, Jeff Blackshear and Vinny Testaverde. We're close to getting Thomas, working on some language in the contract to complete the deal. We're moving along."

Thomas and Goeas would be the Ravens' first key free-agent acquisitions from other teams this year. The team had lost out on Pittsburgh defensive lineman Ray Seals, San Diego defensive end Raylee Johnson and Steelers linebacker Chad Brown.

Thomas, 30, made the veteran minimum of $275,000 last season and had 65 tackles, including 4 1/2 sacks, with the Cowboys. He has played for Tampa Bay, Detroit, Minnesota and Dallas during his eight-year NFL career.

The Ravens feel that Thomas has a home in Baltimore. He visited the city this past weekend without an invitation from the team, and spent yesterday touring its complex for the second time with Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis and linebackers coach Maxie Baughan, who coached Thomas in Tampa Bay.

"I had a lengthy interview with him the last time he was here. He wants to settle down," said Modell. "He came in today [yesterday] to talk about his position with the team and his role on defense. He spent some time familiarizing himself with the facilities.

"I've seen him play before," said Modell. "He has the prototype body of a pass rusher [6 feet 4, 242 pounds] and we're confident he can help us."

Goeas, 30, started 13 games for St. Louis last year. Like Thomas, Goeas is expected to make slightly more than the minimum $275,000 for the Ravens, who have penciled him in to start at right guard.

The Ravens are in a four-team race for Teague along with Miami, Arizona and Dallas. According to Teague's agent, Steve Zucker, the safety is expected to make a decision within the next two days.

The Ravens, who have only two safeties under contract in Bennie Thompson and Donny Brady, also have interest in Dallas safety Brock Marion and the possible re-signing of Ravens safeties Eric Turner and Stevon Moore.

But Marion may not be affordable. So the front-runner appears to be Teague, who doesn't play the run as aggressively as Marion.

"We don't consider him an impact player, but a playmaker," Modell said of Teague. "He is no superstar, but he is a steady performer and is always around the ball."

Presently, the Ravens are concentrating on their defense. After failing to sign Johnson, they decided to play a 4-3 as opposed to a 3-4, increasing Pleasant's value.

"I would term our latest conversations with his agent as more constructive," said Newsome. "There are some other defensive ends we have interest in, but we want Anthony Pleasant back."

Neither Newsome nor Modell would confirm any talks with the Raiders, but a league source said the Ravens would like to have another second-round pick in addition to the two they already have.

The Raiders might be willing to trade their No. 10 slot in the first round with the Ravens and also surrender their ninth pick in the second round. Oakland senior assistant Bruce Allen did not return phone calls yesterday.

The Ravens had trade discussions with the Seattle Seahawks last week. The Ravens want second- and fourth-round picks in exchange for moving down from the fourth to the 11th spot in the first round with Seattle, which is balking at giving up the second-round pick.

"We'd like to work something out soon so we can begin concentrating on who will be available when it's our turn to draft," said Modell. "But I've seen a lot of trades made during the day of the draft when other teams find out who is still available."

NOTE: The Ravens today will announce a five-year agreement to hold training camp at Western Maryland College.

Pub Date: 3/18/97

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