Two days after losing veteran cornerback Antonio Langham, the Ravens set their sights on Langham's replacement by initiating trade talks with the Carolina Panthers regarding veteran cornerback Tyrone Poole.
Poole, 5 feet 9, 188 pounds, has become expendable in Carolina, which recently signed former Green Bay standout Doug Evans to team up with Eric Davis.
A first-round draft pick in 1995 out of Fort Valley State, Poole is heading into the final season of a four-year contract, and is scheduled to earn $704,000 in 1998. Poole's agent, Hadley Engelhard, said he is seeking a contact extension as well as a new home.
"I talked with [Ravens vice president of player personnel] Ozzie Newsome today. First there's the trade, then there's the extension," Engelhard said. "We don't want a trade that makes this a one-year deal. We'll talk about the numbers, then we'll talk about the trade."
In three seasons with the Panthers, Poole started 44 games. He helped the Panthers reach the NFC championship game in 1996 by recording 80 tackles and tying for the team lead with 22 pass deflections. Last year, he started all 16 games, and finished ninth on the team with 60 tackles, including 53 solo. He also had two interceptions.
ZTC Poole, 26, was the 22nd player overall taken in the draft in 1995.
Carolina is expected to inquire about the Ravens' second-round pick in this year's draft. The Ravens already have given up their third-round choice -- part of last month's Jim Harbaugh trade with Indianapolis -- and are down to five 1998 draft picks.
"My only concern is getting the best talent here, however we get it," Newsome said.
Langham left the Ravens to sign a five-year, $17 million contract with San Francisco. The deal includes a signing bonus of nearly $3.5 million. Langham passed up a $5 million signing bonus offer from the Ravens.
Ravens will retain Zeier
Newsome also reiterated the team's intention to match Atlanta's offer for restricted free-agent quarterback Eric Zeier, who has signed an offer sheet from the Falcons valued at $2.6 million over two years. The deal includes a $2 million signing bonus.
The Ravens have until Friday to match the offer or lose Zeier.
"We'll probably match it sometime [earlier] next week," Newsome said.
Zeier parlayed a fine December, in which he started the final three games and led the Ravens to two of their six victories, into quite a payday. Zeier made $233,300 last year. He stands to collect a tenfold raise, or $2.3 million in 1998. The Ravens originally had tendered Zeier a one-year qualifying offer of $397,000.
"Did [the Falcons' offer] surprise me? Not really," Newsome said. "We want Eric, and the way we see it, we've got the guy for two years now."
About 35 players are expected to report by Tuesday for the beginning of the team's off-season conditioning program. By April 1, 50 players are expected to be working at the team's Owings Mills facility. Pat Moriarty, the Ravens' chief financial officer, will be named vice president of administration and will
handle salary cap issues and player contracts.
Pub Date: 3/07/98