Banks in, Zeier out as backup

In separate deals, Ravens change QBs

April 18, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Ravens had planned to address at least one of their various offensive needs during the opening day of the NFL draft, but several hours after strengthening their defense by selecting prized cornerback Chris McAlister, the war room at the team's Owings Mills facility fell silent.

Instead of trading down in the second round and possibly adding a third-round pick -- and thus filling two holes on an offense that ranked 26th in the NFL last year -- the Ravens decided to look one more year down the road. They listened to numerous trade offers before giving up their second-rounder to Atlanta, in exchange for the Falcons' first-round choice in 2000.

Before taking Atlanta's offer, the Ravens also completed a trade with the St. Louis Rams for backup quarterback Tony Banks, who cost the Ravens a fifth-round draft pick today and its seventh-round choice in 2000. Then, the

Ravens moved backup quarterback Eric Zeier to Tampa Bay, in exchange for the Buccaneers' sixth-round pick this year.

That leaves the Ravens with two fourth-round choices and single picks in the sixth and seventh rounds today, when the team is hoping to fill needs at wide receiver, running back and offensive line. The team also could begin contract talks with halfback Errict Rhett, whose interest in returning here probably got a boost yesterday after the Ravens failed to add a running back in the early rounds.

The decision to trade away the second-round pick without picking another player in the second or third rounds caused tension between members of the team's personnel and scouting departments.

Ozzie Newsome, the team's vice president of player personnel, said seven teams called him with various offers, including picks from this and next year's draft.

But the Falcons hit paydirt when they dangled next year's first-round choice. The Ravens unsuccessfully tried to acquire Atlanta's third-round pick yesterday, before agreeing to the deal.

Newsome said the decision came down to the team's player ratings and the value of that extra first-round choice in 2000.

"Our [draft] board wasn't very strong at that point. It would have been easy to draft a guy, but if that player didn't come in and contribute like a second-rounder should, why take him just to take somebody in the second round? I don't value that," Newsome said.

"It gives me a lot of strength next year. Regardless of where we are in the draft next year, if someone is at the top of the draft that we really like, we have the juice to [trade up and] get that player. We can pick two quality players or get a special player like the one we got today in Chris McAlister."

The likelihood that the Ravens would draft a quarterback today appears diminished, although they solidified themselves with the addition of Banks. Originally a second-round choice of the Rams in 1996, Banks, 6 feet 4, 215 pounds, has started 43 games. He has completed 685 of 1,263 passes (54.2 percent) with 36 touchdowns and 42 interceptions.

Banks also has had well-publicized problems with fumbles, having recorded 46 in three seasons. He also was sacked 132 times over that span.

"Anytime you get hit as much as I've been hit, you're going to cough up the football. I've had some flare-ups, but those [fumbles] have gone down every year [from 21 in 1996 to 10 last sea- son]," Banks said. "I didn't play well enough for us to win games. I'm not anxious to call myself a backup. I feel some remorse and relief. I'm anxious to put that behind and start out fresh in Baltimore."

Zeier did not return phone calls yesterday.

Tony Banks file

Position: Quarterback. Age: 26.

Height: 6-4. Weight: 215.

Years pro: 3.

College: Michigan State.

Drafted: 1996 by St. Louis, second round, 42nd pick overall.

Career highlights 1996: Finished rookie season with 2,544 yards, the fourth most in NFL history for a rookie behind Rick Mirer, Kerry Collins and Jim Zorn. Completed 192 of 368 attempts for a 71.0 QB rating. 1997: Started 16 games and recorded career highs in attempts (487), completions (252) and yards (3,254) with 14 TDs and 13 INTs. First Rams quarterback to surpass 3,000 yards since Jim Everett in 1992. 1998: Finished third NFL season with 241 completions on 408 attempts for 2,535 yards, seven TDs and 14 INTs for a 68.6 QB rating. Had a career-high 92 straight pass attempts without an interception between weeks three and six.

Career statistics (all with Rams)

Yr Cm Att Yds Pct TD Int

'96 192 368 2,544 52.2 15 15

'97 252 487 3,254 51.7 14 13

'98 241 408 2,535 59.1 7 14

Tot. 685 1,263 8,333 54.2 36 42

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