Ravens agree on deal with cornerback

Ex-Lion Bailey heads here

F. Smith goes to Vikings

no word on K. Johnson

March 11, 2000|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

The Ravens gained a cornerback, lost a defensive end and remained in limbo in the Keyshawn Johnson sweepstakes yesterday.

Incoming is cornerback Robert Bailey, a nine-year veteran who agreed in principle to a two-year contract after three seasons with the Detroit Lions.

Outgoing was defensive end Fernando Smith, who accepted a one-year offer from the Minnesota Vikings -- where he was promised a starting job -- over a three-year offer from the Ravens.

Still not talking to the Ravens is Bill Parcells, the director of football operations for the New York Jets, who has shopped Johnson around the league in hope of snagging one of the top four college players in next month's NFL draft.

Parcells has talked about sending his Pro Bowl wide receiver to the Ravens in exchange for the fifth pick in the draft, but so far has denied the team a chance to meet with Johnson.

Ravens coach Brian Billick said the window of opportunity for that trade remains open, but that other events could close it.

"We can't make New York progress with this any faster," he said. "At this point, we're going to move along and do the things that are right for our organization with regard to other players. If that puts us in a position where it precludes a deal of that magnitude, then we've reached it.

"The bottom line is, we're kind of moving on. We'll proceed as though this doesn't exist right now."

As for the suggestion the Jets are upset over Billick's public comments, Billick had this to say: "If this irritates somebody in New York, deal with it. Because I'm talking about the Baltimore Ravens and what's in the best interests for this organization."

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens vice president for player personnel, said he did not talk to Parcells yesterday, but said the Ravens had reached terms with Bailey, an unrestricted free agent.

"He is coming in with an opportunity to compete with Duane [Starks] and Chris [McAlister]," Newsome said. "I like his experience, that he has played inside over the slot and brings to us a guy who has coverage ability."

Smith returns to Minnesota, where he was a second-round draft pick in 1994 and a three-year starter before signing with Jacksonville (1998) and the Ravens (1999).

When the Ravens re-signed defensive end Rob Burnett last month, Smith was looking for a team that offered a starting job. He found it with the Vikings.

"Fernando was grateful for the opportunity the Ravens gave him," said Smith's agent, Jeff Durand. "[But] he saw the writing on the wall. If he felt he had an opportunity to start, he would have come back to Baltimore."

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