Ravens press talks after Swayne visits

Tackle, other help sought for offensive line

February 25, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens have begun negotiations with Denver Broncos veteran offensive tackle Harry Swayne, who visited the team's Owings Mills training complex yesterday and is expected to meet with the Washington Redskins today.

The Ravens will try to begin filling some of their most pressing needs during the remainder of the week, with a visit today from former University of Maryland standout and New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Clarence Jones, and Seattle Seahawks tight end Christian Fauria scheduled to visit tomorrow.

Swayne, 6 feet 5 and 293 pounds, is a versatile performer who can play either tackle position and has been relatively injury-free the last couple of seasons despite having played in the league for 12 years. Swayne, 34, made $950,000 in base salary last year and is believed to be asking for as much as $2 million a season.

Swayne's agent, Ralph Cindrich, did not return phone calls yesterday but Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, confirmed talks had begun. There was a remote possibility a deal could have been completed last night. Swayne took his physical yesterday.

"We're just starting to negotiate, so it could or could not happen," Newsome said yesterday.

Even if the Ravens sign Swayne, who also has drawn interest from the Chicago Bears, the Ravens will bring in the 6-6, 280-pound Jones, 27.

Jones was a fourth-round pick by the New York Giants out of Maryland in 1991 and has played for the Rams in Los Angeles and St. Louis before starting with the Saints last season. Jones isn't considered one of the best tackles in the league, but a stop-gap starter who works extremely hard and can do an adequate job for a rebuilding offensive team. He made $1.55 million in base salary last season.

Fauria, 27, could be a steal for the Ravens. After three years of struggling with various injuries that included a fractured finger, sprained knee and fractured ankle, Fauria started 15 games last season and had 37 catches for 377 yards in Seattle's unproductive and unimaginative offense.

Fauria, 6-4 and 245 pounds, is known as a tenacious blocker but is not considered a deep threat who can stretch defenses. But he does fit the Ravens' bargain-basement price: Fauria made only $397,000 last season.

Sold?

Not yet. Newsome also wants to take a look at former New York Giants tight end Aaron Pierce 29, who did not play in the league last season. From 1992 through 1996, the 6-5, 250-pound Pierce had a combined 76 catches for 880 yards. His best season was in 1995 when he had 33 catches for 310 yards.

"If he wants to resurrect his career, than I'm willing to take a look," said Newsome, a Hall of Fame tight end for the Cleveland Browns. "We'll probably get him in here by next week."

NOTES: Newsome said yesterday there has been no progress in the talks with the Detroit Lions about trading for quarterback Scott Mitchell. The Lions want multiple picks for Mitchell while the Ravens have offered only one, believed to be a third-round selection next season. Newsome also is still about $1 million away from the demand of Mitchell's agent, Tony Agnone, who wants a one-year deal worth $3.5 million for Mitchell while the Ravens are offering only $2.5 million. Newsome said Ravens coach Brian Billick has maintained constant dialogue with free-agent quarterback Warren Moon, but Billick has said he wants Moon only as a backup. Moon is shopping himself around the league for a starting position. Pat Moriarty, the team's vice president of administration, said he has had preliminary talks with the agent for defensive end Michael McCrary about extending his contract. McCrary, who made the Pro Bowl as one of the AFC's top pass rushers last season, is expected to make $3.13 million in 1999, the final year of his contract.

Pub Date: 2/25/99

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