Ravens agree to deal with Metcalf

Ex-Brown could play a number of roles

July 02, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The former Cleveland Browns are coming to Baltimore. Again.

The Ravens announced yesterday that the team has reached a two-year agreement with former Browns running back/punt returner Eric Metcalf, who spent last season with the Arizona Cardinals.

Metcalf, 31, will join former Browns receiver Webster Slaughter, whom the Ravens signed last month.

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens vice president of player personnel, said Metcalf's deal is pending the 11-year veteran's passing a physical within the next two weeks. Contract figures were not available, but Metcalf is believed to be making about $400,000 per season, the minimum for veterans, plus incentives.

He could play a number of roles for the Ravens, as a threat out of the backfield or a receiver.

"We'll bring Eric in to compete with Steve Broussard as our third-down back and put him in the mix at wide receiver," said Newsome. "He has been an outstanding big-play player at three different positions, running back, receiver and return specialist."

Ravens coach Brian Billick had a player of a similar mold last year in Minnesota, where he was the Vikings offensive coordinator.

"Eric has been a David Palmer- type of player, and there is a role for that kind of talent in our scheme if Eric can still play at the level he produced in the past," said Billick.

Metcalf started three of 16 games last season and had 31 receptions for 324 yards. He also returned 57 kickoffs for 1,211 yards (21.2 average) and 43 punts for 295 yards (6.9). He did not score a touchdown.

Metcalf, 5 feet 10, 188 pounds, is the only player in NFL history to return a combined 11 punts and kickoffs for touchdowns. He was originally selected by Cleveland in the first round of the 1989 draft. After six seasons in Cleveland, the Browns swapped first-round picks with Atlanta in 1995 and made Metcalf part of the deal.

Metcalf was part of the landmark trade between Arizona and San Diego before the 1998 NFL draft, when the Chargers selected quarterback Ryan Leaf in the first round. In exchange for moving down one spot in the draft from two to three, the Cardinals got San Diego's first- and second-round picks that year, plus the Chargers' 1999 first-round pick, Metcalf and linebacker Patrick Sapp.

Metcalf has 526 receptions during his career for 5,420 yards and 31 touchdowns.

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