Ravens unlikely to set sights on veteran QB

But team will keep eye on Redman's back injury

April 30, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Although the Ravens have not ruled out signing a veteran quarterback after selecting Kyle Boller in the first round of the NFL draft, bringing in one any time soon is not in the team's plans.

Ravens officials are content to enter next month's minicamp with Boller, starter Chris Redman and Anthony Wright as the top three at that position. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Shane Matthews and Miami Dolphins backup Ray Lucas were released by their respective teams Monday, but it is unlikely the Ravens will entertain either player until June, if at all.

Matthews, a nine-year veteran, was the Week 1 starter for the Washington Redskins last year but was benched twice during the season by coach Steve Spurrier. He signed a free-agent contract with Tampa Bay in March but was released after the team drafted Chris Simms.

Matthews, 32, started seven games and completed 124 of 237 attempts for 1,251 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions with Washington.

Lucas, 30, had an equally rough season. The Dolphins were 5-1 when starter Jay Fiedler suffered a broken right thumb. Lucas threw six interceptions and four touchdowns and completed 57.5 percent of his passes while going 2-4 in Fiedler's absence. Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt indirectly blamed Lucas for his team not making the playoffs, and Lucas was cut with a year left on his contract.

The Ravens may not need either player if reviews of Redman's surgically repaired back remain positive.

"We won't rule it out," Ravens coach Brian Billick said of signing another quarterback. "But that is probably unlikely to happen right now.

"We'll consider everybody if we choose to go that route. It will be more of a function of how Chris does in these minicamps, to see how his back is doing, if he is indeed how far along as we think he is. If anything flares up, then we'd certainly consider that. We'll consider it, but we are not taking any active steps to communicate with any of them right now."

Former Tennessee Titans backup quarterback Neil O'Donnell and Cincinnati Bengals first-round pick Akili Smith may also draw interest from the Ravens. Smith is under contract with the Bengals but will likely be released in June.

It the Ravens do not sign a veteran, it would be the first time in Billick's tenure the team failed to do so. Previous backup quarterbacks Jeff Blake (2002), Randall Cunningham (2001), Trent Dilfer (2000) and Tony Banks (1999) all had at least three years' experience as a starter. All eventually started games during the season.

Redman and Wright have 11 starts combined.

"You'd like to have that, and that's a comfort zone," Billick said of having an experienced backup. "But there are also financial considerations to whom you are going to get with what we are going to commit with Kyle Boller. We'll probably have to roll the dice a bit."

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