Ariz. end Bankston visits Ravens Defender's agent eager to close 3-year deal

Thomas, Dallas agree

March 25, 1997|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Arizona Cardinals free-agent defensive end Michael Bankston visited the Ravens' complex yesterday, and his agent said negotiations with the club could begin as early as today.

The 6-foot-3, 280-pound Bankston, entering his sixth season, was seventh on the Cardinals in tackles last season with 89. The Ravens need a defensive end because they have only one under contract and plan to play a 4-3 defense this season.

"We talked about the parameters before Michael agreed to come to town and take the physical," said Bankston's agent, Gene Burrough, who is seeking a three-year deal. "I expect we'll get started and we should be able to close a deal soon if they want. The only other team interested is Arizona, and they have been slow to come around. We're not going to wait around anymore."

The visit of Bankston, 27, came as outside linebacker/defensive end Broderick Thomas was signing a multi-year contract with his old team, the Dallas Cowboys. Details were not available, but Thomas said the Ravens' offer was greater. He said the Ravens offered a multi-year deal worth $7.5 million.

Thomas also said he was about to sign with the Ravens when he got a last-minute phone call from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who sent his private jet to Baltimore to fly Thomas back to Dallas.

"It was real close with Baltimore," Thomas said. "They were about ready to call a news conference when my agent said Jerry Jones was on the phone, and I better take the call. I turned down a whole lot more money, but money doesn't make you happy."

Defensive lineman Rick Lyle, who was no longer in the Ravens' plans, signed with the New York Jets yesterday.

Lyle played in 13 games and started three for the Ravens in 1996. Before that, he spent two seasons under Jets assistant coach Bill Belichick with the Cleveland Browns.

Lyle sat out the 1995 season after suffering a back injury in the preseason that required surgery.

Pub Date: 3/25/97

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