Ravens add 3 to expansion list

Vickers, Burnett, Jackson join Sharper, Je. Lewis as unprotected players

Pro Football

January 26, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The Ravens' expansion draft list, released yesterday, included four starters but no real surprises.

As reported Wednesday, the Ravens left starting outside linebacker Jamie Sharper and return specialist Jermaine Lewis among those unprotected for possible selection by the Houston Texans. The rest of the list consists of three starters: right tackle Kipp Vickers, defensive end Rob Burnett and outside linebacker Brad Jackson.

Sharper, the Ravens' second-leading tackler this season, will most likely be taken by the Texans. Lewis, considered one of the most dangerous return men in the game, would be an intriguing possibility for an expansion team looking for some spark, but his $4.1 million cap number may prove too costly.

Sharper, Lewis and Burnett combine to account for $13.1 million of salary cap space for the Ravens, who are $20.5 million over the cap, with 30 players signed.

The Texans, who will begin play this year, can select as many as two players from each team in the Feb. 18 draft. If the players are selected by Houston, the team must assume the entire cap hit.

"A lot of times you are putting guys on there with the hopes that they're not going to get taken," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' senior vice president of football operations. "We just abided by the league rules and submitted five names.

"As this whole off-season unfolds, there are going to be some very tough decisions to be made. Those decisions are not unexpected by us because we knew they were going to exist when we made another run at the Super Bowl."

Burnett, who is one of two remaining Cleveland Browns to make the move to Baltimore, struggled this season with groin, hand and calf injuries. The 12-year veteran finished the season with 50 tackles and no sacks after leading the team with a career-best 10 1/2 sacks in 2000.

Vickers, a backup for the first six years of his career, was pressed into a starting role this season. He started 14 games at three different positions as the makeshift offensive line floundered.

Jackson received his most extensive playing time of his career when Peter Boulware moved up to end to replace the injured Michael McCrary. Jackson started the final eight games but rarely made an impact.

"I guess they had to put five players on there," said Jackson. "So, they did what they had to do. It doesn't really mean anything unless Houston takes me. You can't read into it too much."

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