Modell: Rumors on Pickens untrue

Ravens owner denies pursuing Bengals WR

July 21, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Ravens owner Art Modell vehemently denied rumors yesterday that his team is pursuing a trade for disgruntled Cincinnati wide receiver Carl Pickens.

Pickens, still considered one of the NFL's premier wideouts, has been designated as the Bengals' franchise player, and has threatened to sit out the 1999 season as a result. Because of his franchise-player status, he was unable to test the free-agent market this year.

Pickens has refused to sign a one-year tender with the Bengals and has said repeatedly that he wants out of Cincinnati.

Had a team signed Pickens to an offer sheet during the recently ended free-agency period, the Bengals would have received two first-round draft picks as compensation.

With training camps set to open next week across the NFL, Steve Zucker, Pickens' agent, has been talking to several teams, including the Ravens, about possible interest in Pickens.

Pickens "has been the subject of some discussion, as have about a dozen other players, but we've had no discussions with Cincinnati," Modell said. "There's no deal pending, no signing of Carl Pickens pending, nothing serious. That's as far as we've gotten. I don't care what the rumors say."

The Ravens, who own two first-round picks in next year's draft, appear unwilling to part with either pick, even for an established star such as Pickens.

Modell also does not believe the Bengals would trade such an impact player within the AFC Central.

In addition, Bengals president Mike Brown is the son of the late Paul Brown, whom Modell fired as coach of the Cleveland Browns shortly after he bought the team in 1961. That set off a feud that has simmered ever since.

"We play each other twice a year, and a player like that could come back to haunt you," Modell said. "I can't remember the last time I made a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals."

"If we wanted [Pickens], we would have signed him a long time ago" to an offer sheet, added Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel. "There's nothing to this."

Added coach Brian Billick: "Do we have a need for a big, go-to guy like [Pickens]? Sure. But I'd be real surprised if he ended up here."

Pub Date: 7/21/99

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