Blake, Chandler QB possibilities

Ravens notebook

If free agents remain unsigned in June, Billick could come calling

Pro Football

March 26, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Free-agent quarterbacks Jeff Blake and Chris Chandler were to have decided by now.

But neither has settled on a team yet, which could eventually bode well for the Ravens.

Blake, according to published reports, was supposed to sign with the Washington Redskins or Buffalo Bills last week. Chandler was close to signing with the Chicago Bears as a backup to Jim Miller a few weeks ago.

If either situation stretches out until June, when the Ravens are expected to get more salary cap relief, the team could make a play for one of the quarterbacks.

"We're monitoring all that very closely, like we are everything in the free-agency market right now," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Our situation clearly has not changed in regards to the timing of what we can do. That June 1 day is still a date looming for us."

Blake, waived earlier this month by the New Orleans Saints, reportedly is seeking a deal with a $4 million signing bonus. He has said the Ravens would be a team in which he'd be interested. Chandler, waived by the Atlanta Falcons, is a 14-year veteran and two-time Pro Bowl player.

The Ravens released last year's quarterback, Elvis Grbac, at the beginning of this month after failing to reach an agreement on a restructured contract.

Randall Cunningham, last season's backup, is expected to re-sign in June, and the Ravens may look to draft a quarterback. Chris Redman will enter next month's minicamp as the starter.

"The longer this market goes, and I'm talking about players in general, the better it is for us because it's pushing it into a June market, where we now can be competitive," Billick said.

"With regards to the quarterback position, our No. 1 perspective right now would have to do with Randall. We are very comfortable with the concept of Chris Redman, Randall Cunningham and whatever the draft or a rookie free agent might bring. But that certainly won't preclude those other players."

Tough draft to pick

Word has it that this will be one of the deepest drafts in recent history.

That's good news for the Ravens, who will likely need at least their first three picks, if not more, to contribute immediately.

"I'd say, across the board, this is a strong draft," director of college scouting Phil Savage said. "It's probably as good as we've seen in the seven years since we've been in Baltimore, depth-wise. I'm glad we're not picking in the top 10 because it's really going to be difficult to separate all those guys."

More contract work

The Ravens are still attempting to rework the contracts of linebackers Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware to free up more money by June.

"We're negotiating," Ravens senior vice president of football operations Ozzie Newsome said.

Camp adjustments?

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Ravens' 14-week off-season conditioning program that will include two voluntary passing camps and two minicamps before training camp opens July 29.

"Chris Redman is around," Billick said. "Some of the other receivers are around, looking at film and meeting with the coaches voluntarily.

"Given the youth that we're experiencing, it's going to be an important time for us. We're looking at right now adjusting those practice sequences and gearing it more toward a younger team."

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