Linebacker Miller may join Ravens by default

Chiefs, Bucs could be out of picture after adding Holliday, Rudd to rosters

April 09, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Former Cleveland Browns linebacker Jamir Miller may become a Raven by process of elimination.

Miller's other suitors, the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have now signed high-profile defensive players to contracts. The Chiefs signed pass-rushing end Vonnie Holliday to a five-year deal Monday, and the Buccaneers signed linebacker Dwayne Rudd to a two-year contract yesterday.

The Ravens, Chiefs and Buccaneers all played host to Miller and were in talks with his agent, Leigh Steinberg, but Tampa Bay and Kansas City have likely met their needs with their signings.

That leaves the Ravens, who hope to get Miller under contract by the end of this week, though team officials would not say if they believe the chances of Miller signing have now improved. "I don't know if [the other signings] impact us at all," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "It's just ongoing negotiations. The way negotiations go, I just can't put a time frame on it."

Steinberg said the Browns also remain in the picture. Browns management has said the team would like to have Miller back, but after having ample time to come up with a contract, Miller's returning is a long shot.

Miller, 29, visited the Ravens' complex a week ago and spoke highly of the coaching staff and its plan for him within the defensive scheme. The Ravens would likely drop Miller to defensive end in obvious pass-rushing situations, a position at which he says he registers most of his sacks. Miller will also have the chance to compete with Cornell Brown as a starter.

"Jamir is excited about the opportunity to play there," Steinberg said.

Miller missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles' tendon in the first preseason game and was released by the Browns on Feb. 27, the day he was due a $14 million roster bonus. He was coming off a 13-sack, 101-tackle season and the only Pro Bowl appearance of his nine-year career.

Hoping to get a new deal from the Browns during the first few weeks of free agency, Miller is one of the last impact defensive players left in the market. Linebackers Mike Peterson, Kevin Hardy, Takeo Spikes, Roosevelt Colvin and now Rudd have all received lucrative contracts.

If Miller signs, he would be the third former Browns player to sign with the Ravens this offseason, following cornerback/safety Corey Fuller and offensive tackle Orlando Brown.

NOTES: Ravens officials witnessed what they had hoped to see during Byron Leftwich's workout Monday in Florida - a quarterback who showed no effects from an injury-hampered senior season at Marshall, one in which he played with a broken leg. "He looked healthy, and that's the big thing we were looking for," coach Brian Billick said. "We didn't want to see him go out there and limp around. From that standpoint, he passed the test." It remains a long shot, though, that Leftwich will drop to the 10th pick, where the Ravens select, in the NFL draft April 26-27. The team also has an interest in California quarterback Kyle Boller, who, along with Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs and 18 other college players, are expected to visit the complex later this month. ... Ravens officials had further talks with the agent for free agent receiver Frank Sanders yesterday.

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