Ravens tell Brown his time is up

Linebacker's contract terminated same day he's charged in court

Rookie T. Johnson added

Marijuana possession charged

Billick: `I'm not going to get into it'

September 06, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The Ravens abruptly terminated the contract of outside linebacker Cornell Brown yesterday, the same day he was charged in Baltimore County District Court with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after being arrested late Tuesday night.

Rookie free agent Tim Johnson was added to the roster in place of Brown. Ravens coach Brian Billick declined to comment on the specifics surrounding Brown's release.

"We needed to make a move," Billick said. "I'm not going to get into the habit of commenting on why I move anybody on or off this team. There are specific reasons, and we just made a roster move. It's a bit of a loss for us, but it's something we needed to do.

"I really can't expand on it more than that. I'm not going to get into it.`

Brown was arrested at his home in the first block of Saddlestone Court in Owings Mills about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday by Baltimore County police assigned to the drug unit at the Garrison Precinct, who entered his home armed with a search and seizure warrant, said a police spokeswoman.

Cpl. Vickie Warehime, the spokeswoman, said the officers were acting on information provided them on an undisclosed date by neighbors complaining of alleged drug activity at Brown's house.

Warehime said police conducted a search of the house and seized an undisclosed quantity of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

She said Brown, along with another man and a woman who were in the house at the time, were arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia and were each taken to the Owings Mills District Court.

There, a court commisioner released Brown on his own recognizance late Tuesday, Warehime said.

A trial date of Oct. 9 has been set in district court, according to court records.

Brown, 26, had been the Ravens' top backup at linebacker since the team selected him in the sixth round of the 1997 draft. Used primarily as a run-stopper, he started six games the previous two seasons for an injured Peter Boulware, and had 25 tackles last season.

He shunned offers from Oakland and a few other teams this offseason to re-sign with the Ravens in May. It was a one-year deal worth $700,000 that included a $100,000 signing bonus.

His release came one day after he received his first paycheck from the team. Brown showed up briefly at the Ravens' Owings Mills practice complex yesterday morning, leaving before practice began.

Terry Lavenstein, an agent who has represented Brown in the past, declined to comment. Brown could not be reached for comment.

Brown has had problems with the law before, which may have been a factor in his release. In May 1997, he was convicted on a misdeameanor assault and battery charge for his role in a fight in August 1996 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, with all but two suspended.

In October 1998, he was arrested for driving under the influence in Blacksburg. He was convicted in January 1999, received a suspended jail sentence and had his license suspended for a year.

Although Johnson practiced with the team yesterday, his signing may be a short-term one. Billick expressed interest in signing a veteran linebacker next week. Johnson, rookie middle linebacker Ed Hartwell and Brad Jackson, in his third year, are the three backups.

Former Raven O.J. Brigance, a special teams standout, is on the team's wish list and would probably cost the veteran minimum of $477,000. Since Brown was making more than that, the Ravens can afford to look for a more high-priced veteran.

The team declined to sign a veteran linebacker this week in order to keep from having a full year's salary count against the cap.

"If you get one now, you've bought one for the year," Billick said. "You bring him in after Monday, then the minimum is four weeks. I'd love to have someone now, and we have a few people in mind. Dollars- and cents-wise, we need to leave ourselves that latitude to do it next week.

"O.J. is a possibility. We'd like someone who would provide us with a little bit more bang for the buck defensively, although O.J. is a class guy and great for special teams. But we have to consider our depth. We're a little shallow at linebacker."

Johnson, out of Youngstown State, spent the preseason with the Ravens before being cut Sept. 1.

"Tim's got a lot of passion for the game," Billick said. "The thing I've challenged Tim with is that this may only be for a week. But that gives us one more week to maybe show us, `Hey, maybe we ought to keep this kid around.' "

Sun staff writers Jamison Hensley and Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

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