Ravens' free-agent run stays on the offensive

QB position taken care of, team set to tackle Searcy

Pro Football

March 08, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The Ravens continued their offensive assault on free agency.

Right tackle Leon Searcy, a free agent from the Jacksonville Jaguars, finalized a daylong visit at the Ravens' Owings Mills practice facility yesterday by deeming the Super Bowl champions as his first choice. A 10-year veteran, Searcy is widely considered the best tackle available in the free-agent pool.

"My wife tells me that when I get my mind set on something, it's pretty hard for me to stray from it," Searcy said. "I've got a good feeling about this organization. I want to be here. I'm letting it be known.

"The worst thing for them [the Jaguars] was that I took this trip."

As of last night, the Ravens had not begun negotiations with Searcy's agent, Drew Rosenhaus. The team also brought in Ben Coleman last night and have a visit planned with the San Diego Chargers' free-agent guard/tackle today.

Searcy's arrival increased speculation that Harry Swayne, the Ravens' starter at right tackle last year, will not return to the team. Swayne, 36, is scheduled to make $2 million next season and has a cap number of $4.5 million. If cut, he is guaranteed a $750,000 incentive clause that would count against the Ravens' cap.

"Harry is still on the team," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens vice president of player personnel. "We're still just trying to upgrade our football team."

Searcy, who is listed at 6 feet 4, 320 pounds, became a salary-cap casualty in Jacksonville and was released before receiving a $6 million roster bonus. Seemingly irked about that move, he called the chances of re-signing with the Jaguars "real slim."

A Pro Bowl player in 1999, Searcy missed all of last season when he suffered a torn quadriceps tendon near his right knee early in training camp. Before that injury, he had started 63 of 64 games with the Jaguars since signing as a free agent in 1996.

Searcy, 31, said he has no lingering effects from the injury and took a physical with the Ravens.

It was the second and last trip for Searcy this week. He met with the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday and now is headed back to his Orlando, Fla., home after meeting with the Ravens.

But Searcy didn't hide from the fact that he wants to return.

"I have much respect for the organization," Searcy said. "I've always considered Baltimore to be my toughest game when I was in Jacksonville. It's kind of sleeping with the enemy right now. But I feel comfortable. Everybody is making me feel right at home.

"The team wants me. That's the key. They didn't beat around the bush. They basically said, `Hey look, we need you and we want you here.' "

NOTES: Ravens punter Kyle Richardson, a restricted free agent, has scheduled his first free-agent visit. He will meet with the Kansas City Chiefs by the middle of next week, agent Steve Weinberg said. ... Tailback Curtis Enis, the fifth pick in the 1998 draft, also visited the Ravens yesterday as the team is looking at potential backups to Jamal Lewis. Enis, who rushed for 1,497 yards in three seasons, became a free agent when he was not tendered a contract by the Chicago Bears. "We're considering opportunity, opportunity and opportunity," said Enis' agent, Joel Segal. ... The Ravens again talked yesterday with Jamie Sharper's agent, Tony Agnone. Newsome remains positive about the chances of re-signing Sharper, but admits it may involve some maneuvering. "We have cap issues," Newsome said. "In order for us to sign other players, we may have to release players."

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