Ravens drafting contingencies

Team leaning toward dealing No. 5 choice

Adams talks break off

NFL Draft

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

As the Ravens ended final preparations for the NFL draft last night, one of their top priorities today was trading down from the No. 5 overall position, but still being able to select two offensive players with two picks inside the top 18.

With the top four selections pretty much set, the Ravens virtually control the rest of the draft with the Nos. 5 and No. 10 overall selections. But the team does not feel there is a player who is worthy of the price tag at No. 5. Last year, New Orleans drafted running back Ricky Williams in the slot and paid him nearly a $9 million signing bonus. Ravens vice president Ozzie Newsome said he had discussions with six teams yesterday, but Green Bay and the New York Jets were believed to be the most aggressive.

According to a team source, the top seven players (not in order) on the Ravens' draft board are receivers Peter Warrick, out of Florida State, Florida's Travis Taylor and Michigan State's Plaxico Burress, defensive end Courtney Brown and linebacker LaVar Arrington of Penn State, defensive tackle Corey Simon of Florida State and Tennessee running back Jamal Lewis.

The Packers were believed to be offering first- (No. 14 overall), second- and fifth-round picks for the Ravens' No. 5 while the Jets were offering the 18th and 27th picks in the first round. The Ravens want either New York's 12th or 13th overall picks combined with the 27th.

New York was busy yesterday trying to work deals with Cincinnati, the Ravens or Philadelphia, which occupy the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 spots, respectively. The Ravens are prepared to make the pick at No. 5, but might wait until the last minute to extract everything out of a possible trade.

A deal might be consummated during the 15-minute allotment for the Ravens' first pick.

"I'm sure if Parcells [New York general manager Bill Parcells] is shopping, he is not just shopping at one department store," said Newsome. "He is too shrewd of a guy. But right now, we're in a pretty good position at No. 5 and No. 10. Our value increases every minute until we pick."

The Ravens were not only negotiating for draft picks, but with Seattle Seahawks unrestricted free-agent defensive tackle Sam Adams. Adams toured the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills yesterday and met with owner Art Modell, Newsome and coach Brian Billick.

But as of late last night, the Ravens had not reached an agreement with Adams, who became angry once negotiations broke off. He was expected to fly to Green Bay this morning. Adams made $2.2 million last season. He said the Ravens were close to that figure, but he was still taking a pay cut.

"I'm going to Green Bay," said Adams last night. "As of now, the talks have broken off. I really wanted to play in Baltimore. I met with the owner, Ozzie, the coaches and I did everything they asked. I swallowed my pride and told them I would play for less than last year. I have been fair, honest and showed them a commitment. I missed three flights to Green Bay and that hurt my chances of playing there."

"I'm [ticked] off," said Adams. "They dropped me off in the hotel and I have to catch a cab to the airport in the morning. I think I'll sign with Green Bay."

Green Bay, though, will reportedly only offer Adams a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. As of last night, the Packers were having salary cap problems and were only $149,000 under. Art Modell said if the team did not sign Adams before the draft, he would not make the roster at all.

If the Ravens sign Adams, it would allow the team to make a trade without much concern. Ravens starting defensive tackle Larry Webster is suspended indefinitely pending an appeal for an alleged violation of the league's substance and alcohol abuse policy. There is also a concern that fellow defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, who is 32 and has a bad knee, might hold out if he doesn't get a contract extension before the start of training camp in July.

If the team doesn't sign Adams, then Corey Simon would become an option, even though the Ravens have more pressing needs at running back and receiver. Green Bay and New York would also like to draft Simon.

"If we don't get Adams signed, then Corey Simon takes a level of interest," said Modell, who would rather stay put than trade down. "Sam Adams is a quality young man. He has got a style about him. But if we don't sign him, then we'll have to take some steps to shore up the middle."

There could be plenty of debate if the Ravens have to pick at No. 5. Newsome has said the draft board is set, but ideally the team would like a player that could improve an offense that was ranked No. 24 overall and averaged 298.6 yards a game.

"If we have a split decision between Brian and Ozzie, then I'll cast the deciding vote," said Modell. "I think we'll be all right. We're two, maybe one player away from being a contending team. This is an important draft for us."

It's also a quality draft, one where the Ravens believe they can draft from 10 through 18 and still select players like Lewis, Taylor or Jackson State receiver Sylvester Morris.

The Ravens have already been in contact with the agents for Lewis and Taylor. Now, it's a matter of trading and gambling.

NFL draft

When: Today-tomorrow TV: Today, noon-7 p.m. on ESPN, 7-10 p.m. on ESPN2; tomorrow, 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. on ESPN, 1 p.m.- conclusion on ESPN2

Total selections: 254

Ravens' picks:

Round 1 -- No. 5, No. 10

Round 3 -- No. 75

Round 5 -- No. 148

Round 6 -- No. 186, No. 191

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