Ravens still in running to land Stewart

Quarterback interested in team despite getting offers from Bears, Cards

No deal expected this weekend

R. Lewis calls ex-Steeler about coming here

Ravens contact O'Donnell

March 09, 2003|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The Ravens don't have to slash Kordell Stewart off their shopping list just yet.

Although the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals have submitted offers, the agent for the former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback said last night that there is still a "sincere interest" in the Ravens. Leigh Steinberg, who represents Stewart, was preparing counteroffers to both teams and said he didn't expect to have a deal in place this weekend.

"We're still in a reflective mode," Steinberg said. "Because Kordell spent his entire career in Pittsburgh, we are in the process of contemplation. [But] Kordell is still interested in the Ravens."

Steinberg said he spoke with Ravens chief negotiator Pat Moriarty about setting up a visit for early this week, but no definite date had been agreed upon. Because of scheduling conflicts with general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach Brian Billick, the Ravens preferred to meet early next week, but Steinberg informed the team that Stewart is on a faster timetable.

Despite no meeting yet, the Ravens have already started their campaign for Stewart. According to Steinberg, star linebacker Ray Lewis phoned Stewart about coming to the Ravens.

Stewart, however, might not be the only quarterback coming to town this week. A league source said last night that former Tennessee Titans backup Neil O'Donnell has been contacted by the Ravens.

A former University of Maryland star, O'Donnell, who turns 37 in July, hasn't been a full-time starter since 1998. He has carved out his niche as one of the NFL's most reliable backups and mentors.

"He's a pocket passer," said George Kokinis, the Ravens' director of pro personnel. "He throws on timing. When he has that, he's good. He takes what is given to him. He's not going to sit back there and try to make the great play. He's just not going to make the worse play."

Besides Stewart and O'Donnell, here are the other options for the Ravens at quarterback:

Inside the organization

Chris Redman: As a first-year starter, he went 3-3 before a herniated disc ended his season at the end of October. Redman, 25, didn't astound anyone with his arm strength, but he played with poise and toughness, throwing seven touchdowns and just three interceptions.

The question mark surrounding him is his surgically repaired back. The team won't know whether he can take a hit until training camp begins in five months.

"He showed progress in all of his starts last year," offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh said. "He had what you would expect: some very poor games with decision-making and execution and then rose above that. He started playing smarter. He continues to be mentally tough and competitive. He still needs a lot of work on mechanics and making certain throws."

Anthony Wright: He's an unknown factor in the quarterback equation since he wasn't signed by the Ravens until after last year's training camp. Wright, 27, started five games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2000 and 2001, completing 46 percent of his throws for five touchdowns and eight interceptions. His repetitions last year were limited to running the Ravens' scout team.

"He's got a strong arm and is quick-footed but is very inexperienced," Cavanaugh said. "At times, he has accuracy problems when his mechanics aren't right and has a lot to learn yet."

Outside the organization

Doug Johnson, Falcons backup: Johnson is among the Ravens' highest graded free-agent quarterbacks. But the restricted free agent received a one-year, $1.3 million tender, which means the Ravens would owe the Falcons a first-round draft pick in compensation.

Entering his fourth season, the former undrafted free agent out of Florida has the potential to be a starter. Behind Michael Vick last year, Johnson connected on 37 of 57 throws (65 percent) for 448 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Charlie Batch, ex-Steelers backup: The No. 3 quarterback with the Steelers didn't play a down last year after being a four-year starter with the Detroit Lions. Batch, 28, who has a mediocre career 76.9 passer rating, is looking for another chance to start.

"The question on him is durability," Kokinis said. "When he was healthy, he made plays. But it's just a matter of him being healthy or not."

Jim Miller, ex-Bears starter: He would be more heavily pursued if not for the surgery on his throwing shoulder, which might keep him sidelined into training camp. In two seasons as the Bears starter, he threw 26 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

"He's a smart guy and is tough," Kokinis said. "He can make plays in the pocket with time. He is in the Trent Dilfer-type mold."

Shaun King, ex-Buccaneers backup: Considered a project at 25, King is 15-10 as a starter and helped the Bucs to the NFC championship game as a rookie in 1999. But in his first start in nearly two years, King completed just nine of 26 passes for 73 yards in a 17-7 loss to the Steelers last season.

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