Billick says Ravens staff should be in place this week

Ex-assistants Burney, Simmons go to Carolina

January 25, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Ravens coach Brian Billick expects to have his entire staff in place by Wednesday, but two former Baltimore assistants he had hoped to retain are going to Carolina.

Billick said defensive line coach Jacob Burney and strength coach Jerry Simmons, each of whom had worked for the Ravens since the team moved here from Cleveland in 1996, have taken jobs with the Panthers under coach George Seifert.

The Ravens made a concerted effort to re-sign Burney, considered one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL. The team is believed to have offered to pay Burney $250,000 a year, an unusually high salary for a position coach.

"Clearly, [Burney] would have been one of the highest-paid defensive line coaches in the league. Evidently, [the Panthers] made him an offer that was a little bit better," Billick said.

"That's unfortunate for us. We wish him the best. It's also my understanding that Jerry has taken the job [at Carolina]. I've already got contingency plans in both cases and I'm working on them now."

One reason Carolina paid such a handsome price for Burney is the Panthers are counting on his having a positive influence on high-priced defensive tackle Sean Gilbert, whose performance was subpar in 1998. The Panthers finished 4-12 last season.

Billick, who has hired about one-third of the assistants he will need, could land several more staff members today.

He would like to bring Kansas City offensive line coach Mike Solari on board, but Solari remains under contract with the Chiefs, who just hired Gunther Cunningham to replace Marty Schottenheimer as head coach. Solari will talk with Cunningham today. The Chiefs promoted Cunningham from defensive coordinator.

Solari appears to be leaning toward remaining in Kansas City.

"I've known Mike for a number of years. Mike is still interested in talking with us," Billick said. "I kind of assume he would decide to stay, with his family living there and knowing his relationship with Gunther. Either way, I'll have an offensive line coach in place soon."

Billick could learn today whether special teams coach Brad Seely, recently fired in Carolina, will join the Ravens. Seely has been offered a job by the Ravens, Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots.

Billick also has offered the offensive coordinator position to Matt Cavanaugh, who held that job with the Chicago Bears.

Cavanaugh, expected to talk with Billick in Baltimore as early as tomorrow, is set to interview for the same job today in Jacksonville. Billick said he was not worried that Cavanaugh might take the Jaguars' job without traveling to Baltimore.

"We've talked about that scenario. Matt and I had extensive talks [last week in Mobile, Ala.]. I really liked our talks. He has assured me that he'll visit us," Billick said.

Billick had hoped to have his complete staff assembled by now.

"It was probably a little too optimistic to think I could get it done by the weekend, but I believe we will have the staff filled out by Wednesday," Billick said.

Billick also said that he plans to have initial personnel evaluation discussions with team owner Art Modell, vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome and executive vice president David Modell by the end of the week. Billick also plans to meet with as many players as he can this week.

One week from tomorrow, Billick said, he will have his first full staff meeting.

Pub Date: 1/25/99

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