College try may lure Jags' Palmer

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Northwestern wants coaching candidate

January 14, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

If Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Chris Palmer does not become the next coach of the Ravens, he could wind up in that same position at Northwestern University.

An NFL source confirmed last night that Palmer, who interviewed in Baltimore on Tuesday for the Ravens' job and also is considered a candidate to take over for the Cleveland Browns, is in line to succeed Gary Barnett as coach at Northwestern.

Barnett appears set to become the next coach at Colorado.

Along with Minnesota offensive coordinator Brian Billick -- with whom the Ravens cannot negotiate until the Vikings' season ends -- the Ravens have held Palmer in high regard since beginning their search to replace Ted Marchibroda.

The Ravens have yet to make an offer to Palmer. After Palmer had concluded his lengthy interview at the Ravens' Owings Mills complex, he told reporters of a "situation coming to a head that I have to make a decision on."

"[Palmer] was very impressive during his interview, but we will continue with our process," Ravens owner Art Modell said.

Palmer, who has 27 years of coaching experience, has been a head coach only at the collegiate level. He ran the program at New Haven from 1986 to 1987, posting 8-2 records in each season. After that, he coached for two years at Boston University, where he drew notice for successfully installing the run-and-shoot offense.

Palmer, 49, left Boston U. for the NFL in 1990. He spent three years as an assistant with the Houston Oilers, then moved on to New England. After the Patriots' Super Bowl loss to Green Bay two years ago, Palmer became Jacksonville's offensive coordinator.

While the Ravens wait on Palmer, the Browns are free to work out a deal with Billick, who has interviewed in Cleveland.

"Chris came to Baltimore with every intention of getting a deal done," said Joe Linta, Palmer's agent. "He had a great meeting with Art Modell and he feels he can work with Ozzie Newsome [vice president of player personnel].

"I think the Ravens are deciding if they want to wait for Brian Billick or not, and if they do, can they risk Chris Palmer being around. If both are gone, [the Ravens] will have to go with a lower-tier candidate. Something will happen in a day or so. Andy Reid went to Philadelphia to get a deal done, but he didn't get the offer until two days later."

In other developments, former Ravens special teams coach Scott O'Brien has taken the same job with the Carolina Panthers, and the Tennessee Titans are pursuing other members of the Ravens' old coaching staff. Former receivers coach Richard Mann interviewed in Nashville on Tuesday, and former defensive line coach Jacob Burney is expected to talk with the Titans this week.

Jackson 1 of 5 unprotected

Wide receiver Michael Jackson is one of five Ravens left unprotected for possible selection by the expansion Browns, the team he played for before the franchise moved to Baltimore.

Jackson, 29, has been inconsistent during his three seasons here. He had a career year in 1996 when he had 76 catches for 1,201 yards and 14 touchdowns. But he has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons, and Marchibroda made him a less vital part of the offense in 1998, when Jackson had 38 catches for 477 yards with no touchdowns.

Jackson made $3.3 million last year, and his option next season is worth $2.7 million. If the Browns don't select Jackson, it's unlikely the Ravens will pick up his option for next season. Other players left unprotected are starting strong safety Stevon Moore and three reserves -- guard Ben Cavil, linebacker Tyrell Peters and cornerback/safety Donny Brady.

Moore, a 10-year veteran, is expected to make $1.2 million next season. He was the team's third-leading tackler with 96, but he seemed to lose a step after major surgery on both knees last off-season. Cavil, a third-year player, started six games last season, but the Ravens project him as a reserve.

Brady was third on the team in special teams tackles with 14, and Peters was tied for sixth with seven.

Sun staff writer Mike Preston contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 1/14/99

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