Safety Marion rejoins Cowboys Restructuring attempt on Ravens deal fails

April 08, 1997|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Unrestricted free-agent safety Brock Marion reversed field and signed a contract with his former team, the Dallas Cowboys, yesterday after he failed to come to terms with the Ravens.

Terms of the Dallas deal were not available, but it was believed to be for one year and for substantially less than the $1.6 million he was supposed to average per season with the Ravens.

On March 18, Marion agreed in principle with the Ravens on a four-year deal that included a $2 million signing bonus. But the team discovered through a CT scan a day later that the fractured left shoulder blade he suffered last season had not fully healed, and the two sides weren't able to reach an agreement on a restructured deal.

The Ravens already were involved in negotiations with Seattle Seahawks safety Robert Blackmon and those talks are expected to intensify by the end of the month.

"This is a disappointment for the Ravens," said Ravens owner Art Modell. "We obviously think highly of Brock and we were hopeful of having him become a Raven. Brock is a quality player and a quality person. He has chosen to return to Dallas for another season and we understand his decision."

According to a team official, Marion wanted to earn close to the same amount stipulated in his original offer without making certain concessions if he were injured again. He was expected to take another physical for the Ravens before the draft takes place on April 19.

Marion's agent, Jordan Woy, said he had a signed a memo agreement from the Ravens and that he will consider filing a grievance with the league and the National Football League Players Association.

"The Baltimore situation is still something I will address at a later date," Woy said. "There are options. Obviously, a grievance is the main option you have if you feel like they have done something improper. I don't think they handled the situation right.

"When Baltimore made this announcement -- Brock Marion has got to have shoulder surgery -- I had about 10 teams call me freaked out," he said.

"It put a lot of thoughts in people's minds. Baltimore all of a sudden made it sound as if this is a player with injured ability and can't play, period."

Even before Marion decided to return to Dallas, the relationship between the Ravens and Woy had become strained. According to James Sims, Blackmon's agent, there has been steady contact between the Ravens and Blackmon.

"I talked to Ozzie Newsome [Ravens vice president of player personnel] in the morning, even before we knew about Brock, and he told me he thought they could get Robert in," Sims said.

"All along, I think the Ravens rated Robert higher. Now, the decision has become a lot easier to make."

Blackmon, 29, and Marion, 26, were two of the highest-rated safeties in the free-agent market. Blackmon had a career-high 102 tackles in 16 games last season, third best on the team. He also had three interceptions.

Marion started 10 games for the Cowboys last year before the injury sidelined him the rest of the season. He finished with 77 tackles. He also led the Cowboys with six interceptions in 1995.

According to a league source, Blackmon wants a deal slightly better than Marion's original offer, possibly for around $2 million per season for four years. Newsome said the team would not sign another free agent until after the draft.

Pub Date: 4/08/97

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