To land Dillon, Ravens won't be using Redskins

Rumor had team acquiring two of Washington's picks in 1st round to get free agent

February 27, 2000|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

The Ravens' pre-draft buzz grew to a roar yesterday when one prominent trade rumor died a sudden death at the NFL's scouting combine meetings in Indianapolis.

Forget that trade with the Washington Redskins. The Ravens may still be able to land restricted free-agent running back Corey Dillon, but it won't be with any of the Redskins' first-round picks.

Less than 24 hours after CBS SportsLine reported the Ravens were working on a deal for Washington's 12th and 24th picks in the first round, the Redskins dealt those picks to the San Francisco 49ers for the third pick in the April 15 draft. San Francisco also gets Washington's fourth- and fifth-round choices in a trade announced last night.

With the second and third overall picks, the Redskins are expected to revitalize their haggard defense by taking linebacker Lavar Arrington and defensive end Courtney Brown, both of Penn State.

The proposed Ravens' deal was problematic at best. Redskins spokesman John Maroon said the report of negotiations with the Ravens over the first-round picks was "not accurate."

Ravens owner Art Modell also refuted the report.

"We won't discuss any trade talk until after we get back from the combine," Modell said. "To my knowledge, there have not been any talks with the Redskins."

As it stands, the Ravens own the fifth and the 15th picks in the draft (the 15th because they lost a coin flip with the Green Bay Packers, who pick 14th).

And it's still possible they could trade down from the fifth spot. Coach Brian Billick said the team was open to offers, and had already fielded several exploratory calls.

"We've received a lot of inquiries about the fifth pick," he said from Indianapolis, where he is part of the Ravens' large contingent on hand to inspect draftable talent.

While Billick admitted he'd love to have the 225-pound Dillon in his backfield, he's not willing to do it at any cost. Under free-agency rules, it would cost a team first- and third-round choices to sign Dillon and pry him loose from the Cincinnati Bengals. Because the Bengals made a qualifying offer of $1.371 million to the three-year veteran, they have the right of first refusal and can match any offer sheet Dillon signs to retain his services.

"There's got to be equitable value there," Billick said. "A 1 and a 3 sounds a little prohibitive."

Billick suggested that market value had been established last year when the St. Louis Rams traded second- and fifth-round picks to the Indianapolis Colts for running back Marshall Faulk. The difference in running backs is obvious: Faulk does his best work in open space, while Dillon operates best in close quarters. But Billick has a point.

The market for Dillon apparently diminished by one last week. The Kansas City Chiefs had him in for a visit, but reportedly have told the Bengals they will not be making an offer.

According to Los Angeles-based Marvin Demoff, Dillon will be visiting his hometown Seattle Seahawks, the Cleveland Browns and the Ravens, in short order. Billick, however, says no plans have been made for a visit to Baltimore.

Demoff also represented quarterback Tony Banks and tight end Shannon Sharpe in their recent successful contract negotiations with the Ravens.

Said Billick: "This is a place Marvin would like to see Corey end up."

Although Bengals president Mike Brown has said he will match any offer for Dillon, various reports indicate he may have had a change of heart. Last week, Dillon said he'd rather "flip hamburgers" and "play football for $50 for someone else" than return for a fourth season with Cincinnati.

Wide receiver Carl Pickens has made similar statements since the end of the season.

Still, the Ravens would have to reach trade terms with the Bengals to get Dillon, or offer a contract that would be unacceptable to Cincinnati.

"Yes, we're interested in Corey Dillon," Billick said. "But Cincinnati has to be the one to make an overture that will be acceptable. They have to take that first active step."

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, was unavailable to comment last night.

Asked last week why he wasn't willing to surrender first- and third-round picks for Dillon, he said, "Because of the backs in this draft. As many as five might go in the first round."

Among those backs are Virginia's Thomas Jones, considered the most complete back in the draft; Alabama's Shaun Alexander, and Wisconsin's Ron Dayne.

Billick said that even if the Ravens get Dillon, it would not preclude them from taking a running back in the draft.

Sun staff writer Mike Preston contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 2/27/00

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