Ravens to take a run at Faulk?

Club talks to Colts about trading 1st pick for versatile back

April 13, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Indianapolis Colts have had preliminary talks with the Ravens about trading for their No. 10 overall pick in the first round of the NFL draft Saturday in exchange for Colts versatile running back Marshall Faulk, one of the league's premier performers this past season.

The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Faulk, 26, was the league's sixth-leading rusher last season with 1,319 yards on 324 carries. He was also tied for third in the league in receptions with Denver's Rod Smith with 86. Faulk finished with 908 yards receiving and four touchdowns. He also had six rushing touchdowns.

He could fill a major need for the Ravens, who haven't had an impact running back who could also double as a receiving threat since the team moved from Cleveland to Baltimore 3 1/2 years ago.

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, confirmed that there had been talks and that he had spoken with coach Brian Billick about the possibility of acquiring Faulk.

But Newsome said he didn't expect more talks to heat up until draft day, even though he added that he wouldn't be surprised if the Colts called today.

"It's something that has been mentioned and maybe something we might explore," said Newsome, who previously had talked with the St. Louis Rams and the Colts about trading up in the draft. "I've talked with Faulk's agent and the Colts. But at this point, I don't know how serious they are. A lot of the talking about deals as far as trading up and down in the draft begins today and it gets heavier by draft day. On draft day, we could possibly talk with the Indianapolis Colts again about Faulk. One of the problems, though, is we would have to re-do his contract."

"It certainly is an intriguing offer," Billick said. "We're going to entertain all offers, analyze them in a thorough manner. The price might be a little too high for what they're asking. It may also be one of those deals contingent on what happens in the draft, what is out there. If it's only for the 10th pick, there's probably a feeling out there that it might be the good move to make. But I have a feeling that they're probably going to ask for more."

Colts president Bill Polian did not return phone calls yesterday. Faulk has two years left on a seven-year deal worth $2.2 million this season and $2.46 million in 2000.

"He is going to get a new deal wherever he goes, or if he stays in Indianapolis," said agent Rocky Arceneaux.

"Right now, I don't know where he is going to end up or what is exactly going on. All I know is that I'm getting a lot of phone calls from teams around the league about Marshall Faulk."

Despite having his best season in five years as a pro, Faulk has become expendable because the Colts have the No. 4 overall pick in the draft. There have been reports that the Colts are interested in Texas running back Ricky Williams, the Heisman Trophy winner last season, if Williams slips through Cleveland, Philadelphia and Cincinnati, who have the first three picks.

There also has been speculation that the Colts are shopping Faulk around to force him into signing a deal with Indianapolis before the draft.

Regardless, the Ravens can't ignore the fact that Faulk, a New Orleans native, has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in four of five seasons and has started 77 of 80 games since he has been on the Colts' roster.

He was a one-man show at the game in Baltimore last season when he rushed for 192 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown, and caught seven passes for 75 yards in the Ravens' 38-31 win on Nov. 29.

Since the move to Baltimore, the Ravens have started Leroy Hoard, Earnest Byner, Bam Morris, Jay Graham, Errict Rhett and Priest Holmes at running back. Holmes rushed for 1,008 yards on 233 carries last season, but there are questions about him being the featured back. Holmes also had problems catching the ball last season.

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