Mitchell's itinerary will include stops in Cincinnati, Carolina

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Pittsburgh may be in mix for free-agent center, who awaits offer from Ravens

March 07, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Jeff Mitchell is lining up his travel plans.

The Ravens' unrestricted free-agent center will make his first visit to the Cincinnati Bengals today and plans to meet with the Carolina Panthers by the end of the week. A stop at Pittsburgh could be set up for next week.

Mitchell's agent, Ed Cunningham, and the Ravens have exchanged proposals, and the team expects to deliver another offer in the next few days.

"We thought a deal would be done by now," Cunningham said. "It's not because of a lack of effort. Everyone is trying to work it out. I wouldn't put a percentage on whether it will be Cincinnati, Carolina, Pittsburgh or Baltimore right now."

The Bengals are shopping for a center since last year's starter, Rich Braham, is a free agent and probably won't be asked to re-sign with the team. Cincinnati also is meeting with Chicago Bears center Casey Wiegmann.

Seattle-bound?

Two Ravens free agents, linebacker Jamie Sharper and Kim Herring, were still expected to make visits to Seattle yesterday. The Seahawks were the worst-ranked defense in the league last season.

Sharper, the Ravens' weak-side linebacker, may have to move to the middle to play for the Seahawks. Seattle returns both of its starting outside linebackers, Chad Brown and Anthony Simmons.

There is a connection between Sharper and Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren. Sharper's younger brother, Darren, played under Holmgren in 1997 and '98 with the Green Bay Packers.

Richardson to visit Bengals

Ravens punter Kyle Richardson, a restricted free agent, expects to visit the Bengals. Richardson's agent, Steve Weinberg, said the Bengals have shown a "very strong interest" and was contacted by Cincinnati last Friday, the first day of free agency.

The Ravens tendered Richardson with a one-year, $512,000 contract and have the right to match any offer. Since Richardson received the lowest tender available for restricted free agents, a team would not owe the Ravens compensation if they signed him to an offer sheet and the Ravens declined to match it.

"We weren't surprised," Weinberg said of the Ravens' offer. "I don't know how many punters have gotten the top tender."

Banks may be Cowboy

Quarterback Tony Banks, who was cut by the Ravens on Thursday, visited the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. Banks was benched in Week 9 and finished with an 11-7 record as a starter for the Ravens.

The trip reunited Banks with Cowboys offensive coordinator Jack Reilly, who was Banks' coordinator five years ago in St. Louis.

"I think he would be comfortable with my ability to get the ball down the field," Banks told the Dallas Morning News, "and I wouldn't have to look over my shoulder all the time like I did in Baltimore."

End zone

Offensive tackle Jason Fabini, a restricted free agent for the New York Jets, did not meet with the Ravens, contrary to published reports. Fabini, a three-year starter, is in town as the Jets' Ed Block Courage award recipient and did draw interest from the Ravens, according to his agent, Tony Agnone. There are no future meetings scheduled with the team. ... Free-agent running back Priest Holmes, the Ravens' career rushing leader and a backup last season, was in Cleveland on Monday. Holmes' trip is the first visit to the Browns by a running back in the free-agent signing period.

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