Ravens fly in Broncos' Sharpe

Team also interested in B. Sanders

Dolphins tight end Drayton visits

February 15, 2000|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

As the Ravens began playing tight end shuffle yesterday, the Denver Broncos' Shannon Sharpe was ushered into town last night after spending two hours with owner Art Modell on Modell's private plane.

Also yesterday, Ravens coach Brian Billick said the team had interest in Detroit running back Barry Sanders after the Lions signed James Stewart of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, has had preliminary talks with the Lions but said there hasn't been any movement since the initial stages.

Sharpe flew in with Modell from Atlanta, where Modell was a character witness in Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis' bail hearing. Sharpe, who has an off-season home in Atlanta, is expected to tour the club's training facility in Owings Mills today, one day after Miami's Troy Drayton's visit.

When asked if Sharpe had become the team's No. 1 choice among tight ends, Newsome said the team probably would have extensive talks with Sharpe, Drayton, Ben Coates, Andrew Glover and Jackie Harris before making a decision.

The Ravens, though, are going hard after Sharpe. Vice president of administration Pat Moriarty is flying to California tomorrow to meet with Marvin Demoff, the agent for both Sharpe and Ravens quarterback Tony Banks. Banks is also an unrestricted free agent.

"Don't read anything into any of this yet," Newsome said yesterday. "Any of the five would be an upgrade for us at the position."

Modell had a different opinion.

"I spent some time with him [Sharpe] and he seems like a very good man," he said. "I like him a lot. He is full of electricity. I've told Pat to get him signed. We would like to have him. Drayton is another option, but my gut feeling is to sign Sharpe."

The Ravens say that signing a top-notch tight end would help their offense immediately, especially their short to intermediate passing game. Drayton wants to be part of the offense and said he likes the arm strength of Banks and his ability to throw deep.

"I hope they were as impressed with me as I was with them," Drayton said. "We're hoping to get something done as soon as possible where I can come in and start working with the strength and conditioning coaches and meet my new teammates. I think I will fit well into the team and system.

"I was really, really impressed by Coach Billick and Coach Cavanaugh [offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh]. I think they want to go downfield here. They feel they are missing someone who can work the middle of the field."

Drayton had surgery Dec. 22 to repair cartilage damage and remove bone chips. The Ravens gave him a physical and a magnetic resonance imaging test yesterday.

"I was back in time to play the last [playoff] game against Jacksonville," Drayton said. "There is not a problem. I'm taking time off and letting it heal. It's not something I'm worried about."

Sanders, 31, retired before the start of last season after rushing for 15,269 yards on 3,062 carries in 10 years. As of last night, most of the teams in the NFL didn't know what the Lions wanted for compensation in a trade for Sanders.

NOTES: Newsome confirmed yesterday that the Ravens had re-signed defensive end Rob Burnett. As reported in The Sun on Sunday, Burnett will make $14 million over four years, including a $4.5 million signing bonus. Offensive lineman Everett Lindsay agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns on a tentative deal for about $5 million over four years. Lindsay started 16 games in 1999 for the Ravens. Starting cornerback DeRon Jenkins, an unrestricted free agent, visited the San Diego Chargers yesterday. Green Bay and New Orleans have started talks with defensive tackle Larry Webster, an unrestricted free agent.

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