Ravens still waiting on Moon

Club getting impatient

deal for Rams' Banks possible by next week

April 15, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens are beginning to become impatient with the indecisiveness of veteran quarterback Warren Moon, and could make a deal with St. Louis Rams quarterback Tony Banks by the beginning of next week, according to Ravens coach Brian Billick.

Moon's agent, Leigh Steinberg, had said his client would chose among the Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs and possibly the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the past two weeks. But Moon has yet to make a decision and Billick has been unable to contact him in recent days. Billick said the team is about ready to move forward in search of a backup quarterback to starter Scott Mitchell. He also added that this was no ploy to get Moon to sign.

Steinberg did not return phone calls to his office yesterday.

"For whatever reason, Warren is biding time," said Billick. "Maybe he is trying to see what is going to happen in the draft. But we have options, and we will be talking with St. Louis about the parameters and we could very well move our time frame if Warren takes much longer. Tony was in here [Tuesday] and he impressed everyone he talked to within the organization.

"From all the people he met, not one person said one bad thing about him. Usually, you catch something, but there was nothing. He was impressive. We could be close to a deal soon, possibly by the end of this week or early next week. Things are hectic with the draft, so we might have to wait until after the draft. But we're definitely moving. We can't wait forever."

Banks has been shopped around the league this off-season to almost every team, and he spent Tuesday at the Ravens training facility meeting with team officials and taking a physical.

Moon, 42, is the top candidate to back up Mitchell, but Billick likes Banks as well for a number of reasons.

"What impresses me is the obvious," said Billick. "He has been durable, has size, good athletic skill and a strong arm. Some people fail to realize that at age 26, he already has 43 career starts, more than other starting quarterbacks such as Trent Green and Ty Detmer. He has been field-tested and has a lot of credentials for a No. 2 quarterback."

Billick also pointed out that while Banks had trouble starting in St. Louis, he also went through four different coordinators in the last five years dating back to his days as a player at Michigan State. Billick noted that Banks also played behind a patchwork offensive line in St. Louis, which may have been responsible for some of Banks' many fumbles throughout his pro career.

"Those fumbles could have been the result of a poor offensive line, him holding the ball loose or Tony running with the ball. I don't know," said Billick. "Hopefully, it's correctable."

The Ravens will probably have to surrender a sixth- or seventh-round pick for Banks, who started all but two games for the Rams last year. Banks was 12th in the NFC in passing, completing 241 of 408 passses for 2,535 yards with seven touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

St. Louis fans and Rams coach Dick Vermeil became disenchanted with Banks when the Rams were beaten, 14-0, by the Miami Dolphins and Banks missed the flight home as well as the next day of practice. Banks is expected to make $577,000 in salary from the Rams for the 1999 season.

If the Ravens trade for Banks, they probably would seek to trade current backup Eric Zeier.

Pub Date: 4/15/99

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