Ravens' linebacker focus now on ex-Brown Miller

Restricted free-agent offer to S. Taylor is withdrawn

Pro Football

March 29, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The Ravens might have former Pro Bowl outside linebacker Jamir Miller visit soon after rescinding their contract tender to linebacker Shannon Taylor earlier this week, according to league sources.

Sources said the Ravens have a strong interest in signing Miller, who could visit as early as next week and likely would compete with the recently re-signed Cornell Brown for the starting job. Miller, 29, missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles' tendon in the first exhibition game; he was released by the Cleveland Browns on Feb. 27, the day he was due a $14 million roster bonus.

It was a devastating injury for Miller, who was coming off a 13-sack season and the only Pro Bowl appearance of his nine-year career. Miller's release was part of a $25 million salary cap purge by the Browns in which all three starting linebackers - Miller, Earl Holmes and Dwayne Rudd - were cut.

Taylor is the only restricted free agent whose offer from the team was taken back. Taylor had a strong training camp and started the first two games of the season last year but lost his job to Brown. He played sparingly the rest of the way and finished with just 14 tackles. Taylor is an unrestricted free agent and likely will have to find another team.

"We thought it was best for him to explore other options at this point," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

The Ravens, too, are exploring other options in their push for Miller. Earlier this month, Miller told reporters in Cleveland he estimated he was 95 percent recovered. His first option would have been to re-sign with the Browns, where he has spent the past four years after five in Arizona.

But the Browns did not make Miller a strong offer, which may allow the Ravens to sign the veteran for a cap-friendly price. Miller would give the Ravens a viable pass rusher on the opposite end of Peter Boulware, filling the void of longtime end Michael McCrary, who likely will retire.

The Ravens also could drop Miller, 6 feet 5, 255 pounds, to end in pass-rushing situations or play him there primarily. Miller said after his release that he would not object to a move to end, from where he says he got the majority of his sacks in 2001. He has 36 career sacks and recorded six straight 100-plus tackle seasons before getting hurt.

NOTE: The Ravens reported no progress in negotiations with free-agent receiver Frank Sanders. Sanders visited the Owings Mills complex March 21 and spoke highly of the Ravens, but the team is not sure when a deal will be completed.

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